You have given us tons of advice over the years – from “don’t talk to strangers” and “be nice to your sister,” to “what’s popular isn’t always what’s best” and “orange is not your color.” The advice that has quite literally paid off the most throughout the years, however, has been of the financial variety.
You started teaching us the importance of managing our finances at a young age, and while the advice has evolved as we have grown (from “save your allowance if you want the newest beanie baby” to “put the money you earn aside, but make an occasional splurge”), certain big picture lessons always remained the same. So this Mother’s Day, we wanted to thank you for teaching us these six important financial lessons over the years:
1. Don’t spend more than you have. You taught us to set a budget (for both bills and the fun stuff) and stick to it, because as an adult there is no such thing as an advance on your allowance. And thanks to you, we have learned that there’s a time and a place for credit cards (“a credit card in college is not a smart idea,” but later on, a card can help you rack up miles). But there’s never a time or a place for carrying a credit card balance. Whenever we use our credit cards (and as one of us works at a credit card company), we remember your words of wisdom: “Only put it on if you can pay it off.”
2. Always ask if there is a discount. Thanks to you, we know that there’s no harm in asking, and if we never ask, we’ll never know if we would have received a better deal. This advice has helped us save on clothes, gym memberships and grocery bills.
3. Start your 401(k) before you get your first paycheck, and at least meet your employer match. Thanks to this advice, we never miss the money we’re saving. While this approach means our spending capacity takes a hit now, it also means our money has decades to grow.
4. Save for a rainy day. This has always been advice you have emphasized and we have followed. Being prepared for the unexpected and working toward a goal helped one of us stay calm after losing a job during the financial crisis of ’08 (and pay for grad school, to boot!).
5. When you work hard, make sure you treat yourself every now and then. Whether we reward ourselves with a trip to the spa or a new outfit, you taught us that such treats help reinforce that our hard work is paying off and encourage us to keep at it.
6. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page financially. This advice was actually observed, rather than given. Watching your *ahem* 30-year happy and successful marriage (one to look up to), we’ve learned that couples thrive if they have common financial goals and a mutual understanding of how to accomplish them.
Since we still come to you for advice on everything from our 401(k) plans to the purse we should choose for our next splurge, we’re sure you’ll teach us much more finance-wise as the years go on. Still, for now, we wanted to thank you for imparting so much financial wisdom unto us already. We love you very much.
Kate & Megan