My Mom and Money
“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” ‐Dorothy Canfield Fisher
My Mom taught me all I ever really needed to know about money. I can’t remember a time that my mom wasn’t in some way teaching me about money. Some lessons were subtle, some were more, shall we say, forceful. These important lessons were all pointing to a day that her young boy would grow into a man responsible for his own money choices.
The first “money’ lesson I remember my mom teaching me began around the age of five and was foundational for me while at the same time being simple and to the point. Money comes from work. Birthday gifts from my parents or grandparents were nice but I was taught not to depend on these one‐time windfalls. Instead, I was offered a list of chores daily with corresponding payment amounts for work completed. Not working was not an option and met with swift disapproval. Work, for a young boy, came in the form of things like making my bed, doing the dishes and taking the garbage out. There was always something to do and no excuse for not doing something.
The next lesson began with a question. “Now that you have money, what are you going to do with it?” As a little boy, my mind went immediately to the cool dirt bike I had my eye on and the latest greatest baseball glove. I was partially right. I was taught that there were three things I could do with my money; spend, save, and give. My mom took the time to teach me about the importance of
each. Spending with restraint on something I wanted now, saving for something that was in the future, and how rewarding it is giving to others. These lessons shaped how I interact with money and the decisions I make today and they are lessons that I’ve passed onto my kids.
I was an immature teenage boy when I told my mom that I never wanted to be satisfied. What I was trying to express was that I didn’t want to “settle” but it wasn’t received that way. Mom seemed alarmed by my statement and I clearly recall a long conversation about the importance of contentment in one’s life no matter how much you have or didn’t have. She went on to remind me of several people in my life that I adored who worked extremely hard, but had very little. These people had a peaceful happiness about them that drew me in as a young boy. I wanted to be like them in that way. I learned that day that it was okay to want more and work hard for more but you could be content and happy without more as well.
One of the constant messages from my mom was that no matter who you are, who you think you are, who you aspire to be or what you have does not make you better than anyone else. I was taught that money and material possessions won’t change you. They will only magnify who you really are. The lessons evolved, expanded, and had greater meaning as the years have passed. I’ve watched my Mom put words into action with her own money. I have great respect for her dedication to hard work, her discipline of living below her
means, and her generosity to others even when there wasn’t much to give. I think that was the greatest lesson of all of them. She has modeled to me what she taught throughout her life.
Mom was not only teaching me these life lessons but my two brothers as well. I honestly don’t know how she did it. We were a handful. There were times that she wanted to throw her hands in the air and give up, I’m sure of it. But she didn’t. She did what so many moms do everyday. She hugged us when we needed a hug, she disciplined us when we needed it (which was often), and she
encouraged us always.
This goes without saying, but please remember to reach out to or honor your mom this Mother’s Day. Oftentimes, they are the crucial hub to the wheel of life that keeps us rolling down the road in the right direction. We couldn’t do what we do every day without them. Visit if you can. Make a phone call, send a card, or say a prayer.
Thank you to all of our moms, and happy Mother’s Day.