The month of May in South Africa is all about mothers. We celebrate them on Mother’s Day, spending time and money on the very best way to show and tell our mothers how much they mean to us. But it’s more than just one day. All this focusing on mothers often goes hand in hand with memories of childhood – the things our mothers said and did and taught us. In celebration of mothers everywhere, YFN asked a few regular readers to share with us what their mothers taught them about money.
Donna: Spend wisely and share. I remember winning a prize at school that included R50 cash (this was in the 1980s when R50 was worth way more than today!). I bought a few things I really wanted and then took my mom to have pizza before we went home. It is one of my best money (and mother) memories.
Trevor: Spend money on experiences. My mother raised me on her own and there were days when we could hardly afford bread and jam for food. But she always made sure there was money for petrol so that she could take me to places that would open my mind.
Sihle: How to make spending decisions. I remember lusting after a really trendy jacket when I was in high school but my mom said we couldn’t afford it. Then my dad got an unexpected bonus at work and he gave each of us kids a few hundred rands. I felt rich, until my mom said that I could now buy the jacket. Looking at how much it cost, in relation to what I had to spend, I just couldn’t! I ended spending my “bonus” on things I needed and that lasted longer than a fashion trend.
John: Save up! For as long as I’ve known my mom she has always been a saver. No matter what we needed – new school clothes, furniture for the house, a vacation, whatever – my mom was incredibly diligent about putting a portion of her salary away every month to cover short-term and long-term expenses.
Sindie: Educate yourself. My mom was ALWAYS watching financial gurus, like Suze Orman, on TV, or cutting out random articles on personal finance from newspapers and magazines. It irritated me as a teenager, but at university when I began to seriously educate myself about money I could finally appreciate all the financial wisdom my mother had amassed.
Michael: Talk about money. My biggest money lesson was something my mother did not do. There were a few years, when I was a teenager, when I thought my mother was the stingiest person alive. I remember how she divided one chocolate bar between me and my three siblings. Only years later did my parents reveal just how tight money was in those years, and that buying one chocolate bar was actually quite an extravagant thing to do. I wish I had known and understood the situation so that I could help, instead of nag for more chocolate. The lesson I took from that was to talk to my family – kids included – about our finances.
Kabelo: Protect your credit. “Always have good credit” was something my mom preached religiously. She taught me over and over again that a poor credit score means you won’t be able to purchase a house or a car…maybe not even a cell phone. Because of my mom, I also learned that employers run credit checks before they hire you and a poor credit score can mean not getting the job.
Mary: You don’t have to pay full price. My mom is a master at getting a deal. She shops at sales and is never afraid to ask for a lower price, even at stores where you would think haggling wouldn’t be allowed. This bargaining with sales people often embarrassed me as a teenager, but she certainly taught me that you don’t lose anything by asking.
Robert: Never love money more than people. My mother was a successful estate agent, mainly because she loves people so much. She invested a lot of herself in her clients, and in turn, they invested in her business. She never chased a deal for money’s sake; happy customers were always her first priority.
Brenda: Ignore “the Joneses”. Growing up, my mom had lots of friends who were well off. They lived in big houses, drove luxury cars, went out to fancy dinners, shopped at expensive stores, and took exotic vacations. My mom was genuinely happy for them and their lifestyle, but she didn’t allow them to influence what she would do with her money; she had different goals and was perfectly happy with her financial choices.
Fikile: Splurge sometimes. There are times when a higher price really does mean higher quality. The ability to tell the difference is a skill my mother taught me. If a more expensive product gives additional value or would last significantly longer than a cheaper alternative, it is worth the splurge.