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Mom’s financial advice sticks for many of us

Connie Prater

What do you remember about what your mom told you about managing your money?

If you’re lucky, you had a money-wise mom who taught you the importance of saving something for a rainy day or a nest egg. Not everyone was blessed with such mentoring — from either parent. If that were the case and the advice stuck, we would all be like Warren Buffett, the billionaire investment guru.

Mom’s most memorable words
A survey published this week in time for Mother’s Day found that the most popular of mom’s words of wisdom remembered over the years were: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Surely, many of us recall this from mom or grandma or some other caregiver, perhaps when we left the water faucet running too long or left an empty room with the lights on.

“Teaching children about finance early in life will pay off for everyone in the long run,” notes Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, senior vice president of Charles Schwab & Co Inc., which commissioned the poll as part of its quarterly retirement survey.

According to the results, 42 percent of the respondents recalled the “Money doesn’t grow on trees” wisdom. That was followed by:

  • “A penny saved is a penny earned” (identified by 23 percent of the respondents).
  • “Give generously to those in need” (15 percent).
  • “Wait for it to go on sale” (9 percent).
  • “Spend like there’s no tomorrow” (3 percent).

Things I remember
Growing up in South Florida with relatives who were raised in the South, I heard and absorbed lots of money-related sayings that have stuck with me through adulthood. My mom, uncles, aunts and grandmother had prize expressions that always seemed to make sense to my young ears.

I could add some of my own phrases that apparently didn’t make the Schwab survey:

  • “I’ll think about it.” Translation: We won’t buy it now and perhaps never will.
  • “You can’t get pee from a tree.” Alternative usage: “You can’t get blood from a turnip.” This applies to money or life circumstances in general when the impossible is presented as an option.
  • One of my favorites was used to describe a family member or other person who spends money recklessly without regard for whether they can pay it back: “Doesn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out.” I heard this frequently in my childhood. The subliminal message that I got: Don’t be that guy or that girl.

Today, I’m happy to say that I have both a pot and a window, several windows and pots, in fact. Rest assured for anyone who has dined in my home, I don’t use my cooking utensils for bladder relief. LOL.

Good and bad advice
I blogged last year about how a mom’s influence on our own financial habits can be good or bad based on a poll. Mom was identified as the family member with the most influence over how we manage our own money. Dads were a close second. We know that children learn from bad financial habits, too, if mom hid credit card accounts or was a compulsive shopper for instance.

Little ones are influenced more by what they see us doing than by what we tell them. But moms and dads should keep on talking to their children about money and finance. What we say and do, good or bad, is bound to sink in.

See related: 7 lasting money lessons from mom, Poll: Dad’s a pushover for kids looking for big debt help

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