There are all kinds of moms in the world. Mine is so thrifty that I was strictly ordered not to check up on her via her cell (her only working phone) during the Sandy cleanup until after 6 p.m. because she doesn't want to use up her minutes.
Many of my friends have the opposite kind of moms ... ones who actually encourage the spending of money, like some kind of unholy combination of irrepressible gal pal and deeply entrenched authority figure.
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I suppose I should refuse to make fun of moms, now that I am one ... but now more than ever I'm amused by the annoying habits that are bound to inspire my own daughter's future personal essays ("I was five before I realized you could buy brand-new clothes directly from Target!").
Speaking to friends*, I found that indeed, while we all have wildly differing matriarchs, we also share a common problem: Even the most well-meaning moms can blow holes in our wallets, sometimes in outstandingly creative ways. We asked these friends to detail how a well-meaning mother has sent them into the red.
Have your own stories of an expensive mom? Please share in the comments!
Going Out on the Town
"If I go shopping with my mom, I have to triple my budget because she'll say, 'That looks so great on you, you've got to buy one in every color!' Except the color she calls 'poison green.' She hates green. So of course I also have to buy it in green."
"I love going out to lunch with my mom, but I have to factor in double the budget because there's no way I'm letting her pay."
"Au contraire, I love going out to lunch with my mom, but I have to factor in the fact that I'm going to have to bring cash to sneak onto the table to double her measly tip!"
"My parents have moved in with me for the duration of the Sandy cleanup. I love having them here, but my mom's an interior designer, and she's already planning a complete overhaul for my kitchen. It'll look so great, but oh, my God, the money..."
"I rented a small storage unit before the last time my super-snoop mom visited. I didn't need her poking through my bills for unsuccessful fertility treatments, tax forms, and birthday cards from my dad, signed by my stepmom. Once I had the extra space I couldn't give it up, and have been renting it ever since."
Keeping in Touch
"I make a pretty good hourly wage as a consultant. Meanwhile, my mom thinks I don't work, because I have a home office. Every time she calls in the middle of the day to find out why her wireless internet won't connect, I ask her why she won't call my brother, and she says, 'I can't call him at work!' I should send her a billing statement."
"When I was living in Ireland, my mom very kindly sent me American peanut butter (which isn't available there), but it was the kind I hate. I didn't eat it, but the homeless shelter was happy to get it. The problem was that she insured it, so I had to pay 30 euros (about $35) in taxes for peanut butter I didn't even want!"
"My mom moved to France from England. Now every phone call costs ten pounds, every visit costs 200 pounds, and I still get 'You never call! You never visit!'"
"I have to keep a land line so that I don't have to give my cell phone number to my mom, who has a few boundary issues. But she's a little kooky--when I was in high school, she used to steal my marijuana, too."
Being a Dutiful Daughter
"Every time I update my underwear, I silently tell my mom, 'See? If I get hit by a car and am brought to the hospital, they won't refuse to save me because of my raggedy drawers.'"
"My mom made all my clothes, which I now realize was very cool and great. But at the time, all I wanted was Jordache jeans with the satin cord down the side, and I spent my entire 20s overspending on anything that had 'GAP' emblazoned across the front. That was my big rebellion: filling the pockets of corporations outsourcing their production to under-age, underpaid workers. Good job, me!"
"My mom was spending way too much on her vitamins and supplements. I found them much cheaper online, so I set up an order for her, but she doesn't have a computer at home so this is now my deal... and there's no way I'm asking for her to pay me back, because she's my mom. So."
"My mom bought me an exquisite set of high-thread-count sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond, with an apology because they didn't have the matching pillow cases. I was shocked to find that even with the 20% off coupon, just the pillow cases were sixty bucks! That's my gas bill!"
"Two words: therapy bills."
"My mom got a ticket for sunbathing topless in the middle of Oakland, CA, and was so infuriated at the Puritan attitude of these silly Americans that I ended up having to pay it. You know, because it's my fault for living here and not in Finland."
*Names have been changed.
Amy Keyishian is an expert at finding free, cheap, and offbeat fun for herself and her kids, and juggles work and fun--and tries to make work fun--as best she can. She is also the author of "Why Broke Is the New Single," "10 Money Secrets of Happy Moms," and "Why My Worst Boyfriend Was My Best Financial Advisor."