Take the May Family Money Challenge (The Prize Is $250!)


family money lessonMother’s Day is coming up fast, and here at LearnVest we’re especially appreciative of the great things that our mothers have taught us about money.

In fact, many of us plan to pass down some—if not all!—of our moms’ sage financial insights to future generations. Here are just a couple of examples of great mom money advice from members of the LearnVest staff:

  • My mom had a rule: If you’re going to buy it, be sure that you really love it. It’s a rule that I use with my kids—and it’s awesome to see them use that filter when we’re in a store. They’ve walked away from many things with a simple “I don’t really love it.”
    Ainslie, Chief Marketing and Product Officer
  • My mom taught me that using my imagination can save money. In second grade I wanted to be Luke Skywalker from ”Return of the Jedi” for Halloween. Instead of spending my allowance on the pricey light saber in the toy shop, she suggested that I make one out of a wrapping paper roll. As Yoda would say, strong is my mom with the Force.
    —Tom, Senior Editor


Of course, we’re all about equal opportunity appreciation, so our May monthly challenge includes not only moms, but aunts, grandfathers, older cousins … basically, any family member who’s ever taken the time to talk to you about money.

So we’re looking for the one money lesson that your family taught you that you’re planning to pass on—or have passed on—to your own family. By sharing your story in the comments below, you’ll be entered to win $250!

Be sure to use your email address when you comment—it won’t be visible to other users—so we can notify you should you win. Good luck!

  • Seven

    #1 Money Rule: More money coming in than going out.

  • Egorsmommy

    Growing up, my Dad taught me the value of money by making me pay for 1/2 of the price of the item I wanted. This way, he knew I wouldn’t constantly ask for frivolous things if I had to pay for half. Yet, I was so proud and appreciative of my purchases (like designer purses & entry fees to horse shows) when I contributed to the purchase. Since I always wanted to ride horses and wanted my own, he arranged for me to clean horse stalls for my trainer to offset the cost of “boarding” (aka stabling & feed cost) my horse. You’d be surprised at the money I was able to make doing odd jobs around the barn and even my neighborhood by being a determined, creative child. As soon as my 3y/o little boy is old enough, I plan to do the same. I will give him an allowance for doing chores around the house until he is old enough to do more & will apply the same technique. BTW, my parents did not impose this work ethic with my younger sister- they bought her whatever she wanted. She grew up with a much different attitude & to this day she still is trying to keep up with “the Jones”

  • http://twitter.com/thinkyoungmedia Courtney Young

    my mother taught me to always have a safety nest and to never depend on anyone to support me. She really honed in on the fact that you must have an emergency fund to support you during life’s unexpected surprises.

  • Chandra

    Whatever monetary gifts you get from anyone, split in half. Spend one half and put the rest in your savings account.

  • Amanda C

    When I would come home from the mall and would tell my mother how much I saved on what I purchased (with my allowance), she would ask where that “saved” money was – pointing out that things are worth what you are willing to pay, not what the price tag has been reduced to. I’ve kept that lesson in mind when making decisions on purchasing new clothes or furniture – I always try to come up with a price in my mind before checking the pricetag to decide if I want to buy an item – and a lot of the time my price is $0.

  • Jamasian

    My dad always said, “Oh that looks nice! Great pick! How many Krispy Kreme doughnuts is that? How many Barbies is that?” Since those were my favorite things at the time, I quickly decided whether or not I’d rather get more of my favorites.

  • CLA

    My mother taught me to never carry a credit card balance. If you don’t have the money to pay the bill, you can’t buy it. I’m still with the credit card company I started with at 16 and I pay it off every month.

  • Makena Cahill

    My mom always says (which she learned from my grandfather, so imagine this spoken with an Italian accent) “If you wait-a until-a the last minute, you pay-a double.” And it’s a double whammy because you usually end up buying something you don’t really love, just because you need it in a hurry.

  • sarah

    My mom taught me to be proactive with my savings. She taught me that it’s important to know where all of your money is and how it is invested. Leaving too many decisions to a partner or advisor won’t help in the long run. She bought me books on investing to help me learn the basics as I got started.

  • Amber

    One of the money lessons I learned from my parents is how to save. They opened savings accounts for my siblings and I at young ages, and every time we were given monetary gifts or earned money, 50% was to be put in to savings. I actually funded my own private college tuition with that savings and scholarships.

  • Grace

    My mother taught me to exercise discipline in life. She asked me to put in their place after use so that no time is lost is looking for them when I next needed them, use perishable goods before the expiry date so there is no wastage, take good care of my belongings so that they last longer. The best tip she ever advised me was to spend on quality,buy the best I could afford and the one that I really love. My house is decorated minimalistically with the pieces I adore and cherish everyday, the same is with my wardrobe. This has saved me in thousands since the goods I buy last longer, and are one of a kind.

  • Alexis

    Do not live beyond your means!!!! My mom has been telling me this ever since I can remember, it’s important as we live in a society of “keeping up with the Jones’”.

  • Emily Moss

    When I’m shopping for clothes, I set the price I’m willing to pay before I look at the price tag. In the dressing room, once I’ve decided I want this particular t-shirt, I agree with myself on the upper limit, “If it’s less than $25, I’ll get it.” Then, I check the tag. It makes me think about how much I value something and how it fits into my needs and wants. The tough part is sticking to the rule when the t-shirt you said you’d buy for $25 is $27.99. Nope! Not allowed!

  • Denny Wilkerson Corsa

    My mom taught me to never quit a job unless you have the savings or another job lined up.

  • Tony Folkner

    Save a little, every time, if you are going to get a payment, make sure that it makes or saves you more money than what it costs. I.E. Mortgage payment cheaper than renting=buy. Rent higher than a mortgage payment=own a rental. Getting a new car with a payment that is equal to the gas savings from what you spent on a gas guzzler!

  • Joop

    My mom taught me that the best way to know if I really want to buy or splurge on something is to look and then walk away from it for several days to let it sink in and give myself some time to think about it. If after 2-3 days I am still thinking about it (and ifcan actually afford it), then I can try to go back to look to buy it again. By following this rule and delaying the urge to act on impulse buying right at that minute, I was able to think and rationalize more carefully before spending my money on my wants. I actually ended up saving money and walking away from many unnecessary purchases just by following this suggestion!

  • Lucy P.

    A rule of thumb I follow is to save for large ticket items. It can take months for you to save up, but at least you’re spending money you have. By the time you have reached your goal, you might be in love with it or the time it took you to save might not be worth the expense. Or, if you’re lucky, it’ll be on sale or something better will come along.

  • Jessica

    My mom taught me to never pay full-price. I learned couponing from her at a young age and have continued to use it and always look for the best deal I can find on anything before I purchase.

  • Kyle

    My parents have helped me to develop a balanced financial outlook. My mom is a coupon queen and loves shopping for a deal, so naturally, I do too. My dad has an appreciation for the finer things and has taught me that when I have the funds to afford it, spending the extra money on something I really, really, love is okay once in a while. As a result, I have learned the sale cycles of my favorite stores (and airlines!) and also figured out what high quality items I can get for great prices. I get the most compliments on my outfit when wearing a $20 dress from Target and a blazer from Ann Taylor!

  • Melissa

    My mom taught me what she called “bucket budgeting”. I set my budget based on known expenses and my base salary. If I make more than my base, that money becomes additional savings. My spendable cash is bucketed into categories: gas, groceries, and wants. (I actually go to the ATM on payday, take out my allowance, and put it in a coupon portfolio that has a tab for each category). From there I make choices. If there’s something I really want that is more than my want allowance I will clip coupons, shop sales, or drive less to build that bucket. I also bucket my savings like bills. We have a holiday / birthday account, a vacation account, and a rainy day account. It sounds like a lot of work but once the buckets are set its really easy to manage. If we decide we want an extravagant vacation we may skip a weekend get away or some smaller trips to allow for it. I think it’s great because it will be an easy way to teach my kids budget basics from a young age as my mom did & I still rely on it today :)

  • Kirsten Chen

    From immigrating to the states from China when he was only 6 years old and moving out of his house by age 15 to now being a Newsweek-lauded Financial Advisor and proud parent of two college graduates, my dad is the real-life american dream. Through his life and actions, he’s taught our family what true financial responsibility really means and the importance of understanding it.

    He finished high school and paid his way through college by working 3 jobs – knowing the importance of an education even back then. After college, he got his foot in the door on Wall Street and became a successful trader. He commuted over an hour each way for TWENTY years, intelligently investing and saving his money, before finally resigning and starting his own business as Financial Advisor near our home.

    His own life has taught us our one of our first money lessons “always live below your means.” He held true to his own words by never falling victim to consumerism, a difficult feat considering he worked on Wall Street in its hay day.

    During my childhood, he engrained in me another vital lesson: “know the difference between your wants and your needs” This started when he would take me back-to-school shopping (yes, it was always a father-daughter outing – What? Dan’s got style!). He would make me go through my closet and drawers and separate what I could still wear versus what was to be donated. Then, with all the clothes I was keeping, I would have to decide what pieces I “needed” to complete the wardrobe versus what pieces I “wanted.” Granted, I probably didn’t “need” much at all in the true essence of the word, but it was a wonderful lesson nonetheless. And as I’m currently living in NYC completely independently, my budget is pretty grateful for this lesson, too. I cringe when I see our society’s rampant materialism in the form of 20-something girls and their $1,000 shoes. But, hey, to each her own. I’m just glad I don’t feel the need to “keep up” with it.

    Finally, my Mom has a genetic health condition that has put her in a wheelchair in recent years. What could be a life-dampening tragedy for our whole family has only brought us closer and made very little difference in the negatives. Why? Because of my father’s third lesson in finance and in life, “Always do your homework – know how to prepare and most importantly, know your resources.” Growing up, he was pertinent on ensuring my mom, and all of us, had the right insurance coverage. This foresight allows us to have all the assistance we’d like now and not have to struggle financially or emotionally to keep mom happy.

    And of course, his stoic attitude and strong-willed, loving persona turned what could have been a problem, instead, into an opportunity… and maybe that’s the biggest lesson after all.

  • dnt

    my mother taught me to dream and take risks but not to live a lifestyle beyond my means. she taught me that i should not buy anything unless i had the cash for it and if i really wanted it i should save to buy it. i have applied this throughout my life, with the exception of college loans and a mortgage, and i am happy to say i live debt free. My college loans were paid off slowly but surely and i continue on with my mortgage payments. I suppose what she really taught me was discipline!

  • bartexas

    When we went on vacation, my mom put a set amount of money in an envelope for each of us. If we wanted to add our own money, we could. At the beginning of the trip, we knew how much money we had to spend over the course of the vacation. When we wanted a souvenir, ice cream cone, etc. she handed us money out of our envelope to buy it. Whatever was left at the end was ours.

    It allowed them to budget ahead of time what they would spend on souvenirs and gifts, while cutting down on the whining, begging, and cajoling from me and my sister. It also gave us an early start in budgeting.

  • Hazel

    My mom taught me to always pay my debts on time. If I ever need to borrow money, I should pay it back as soon as I can. Not only does it speak volumes about my character, it ensures that I don’t rack up debt mindlessly. What’s the point of wearing the most expensive clothes and accessories, when underneath it all is a giant pile of debt? (Figuratively speaking, of course). Because of that advice, I’ve graduated college and am into my 2nd year of full time of work, debt free and with a growing pile of savings.

  • Laura

    When I was in high school my parents divorced. My mom moved out and got an apartment large enough to have us children over. It was a difficult time, but one afternoon I saw her take out a little black and red book and organize all of her receipts and expenses into columns for each type of expense. I will always remember her hand-written budget.

    Throughout college this stuck with me and although I did not keep a budget, I made sure I always had more money in checking account than I spent and even started paying off a private student loan (when I realized it was earning interest) while in college. Every two weeks half of my paycheck would go toward loan payments and in December of my junior the $5,000 private loan was paid off. Two weeks before graduation and preparing to move for my first job, I saw a budgeting pamphlet and created a spreadsheet with my mom’s diligence in mind. Thank goodness for that! $60,000 in student and car loans were paid off within three years of graduating from college and I am well on my way toward other financial goals: retirement, housing fund, and wedding fund (and no, I am not engaged! People save for weddings before the are engaged, right?)

  • Alethea

    My dad gave me one piece of advice which has always stuck with me – if you buy, buy what you can afford now, without assuming you will ever make more money than you are making right now; do not buy based on projected income.

  • Tania

    My mom is the ultimate upcycler and re-user. She did it long before it became a “thing”. I’m more of a minimalist than she is so I do let go of things easier than she does but I do find I see the potential in items for multi-use. While some people see an item for it’s intended use, I see how I can use that item for say twenty different uses.

    My dad and grandma taught me it is better to pay for higher quality but buy less rather than buying on the cheap. I got caught up in buying too much but I’ve been turning that around this past year and I never skimp on quality just to save a buck, which has been key to me sticking to my guns on buying less and feeling satisfied.

  • Danielle

    My parents taught me the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket. My parents put all of their life savings in one investment that they thought was safe, making good interest, and “diversified”. It turned out that the investment was a ponzi scheme. So I’ve learned that no matter how good your investment is, you need to diversify across multiple platforms and always have a safety fund.