They say "mother knows best." When it comes to money, these mothers truly do.

4 minute read

A novelist named Lisa Alther once said, “Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease.” Add to that list CPA, financial coach, and investment adviser.

Whether intentionally or accidentally, moms teach their children about money. We asked a half-dozen successful women about those lessons – women whose jobs involve teaching others about money. What they learned, you can, too…

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1. Marguerita Cheng: Frugalista before it was cool

Marguerita Cheng
Marguerita Cheng from Blue Ocean Global Wealth.

Marguerita Cheng’s father fled Communist China and arrived in the United States with $17. Her mother was a secretary who “knew how to make a dollar stretch. “

“My mom was a frugalista before it was cool,” says Cheng, CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, an investment advisory firm. “She taught me that life is about choices. Don’t try to keep up with Joneses and delay gratification. It was ingrained in me since I was little, like preschool age. They told me money is a tool and you need to use it wisely. I always remember my mom making a grocery list – you go there and you buy what you need.”

Cheng taught those lessons to her own daughter.

“My daughter opened an IRA once she graduated from college and started her first job,” Cheng says proudly. “I’m just taking the things my parents gave me. I’m just taking it and elevating it.”

2. Sami Womack: Learning what to avoid

Sami Womack
Photo courtesy of Sami Womack

The most important lesson Sami Womack learned from her mother? What not to do.

Her parents declared bankruptcy when she was just 4 years old.

“However, this hardship served as an amazing lesson to me, and eventually I vowed to never repeat their mistakes with my own money,” says Womack, founder of A Sunny Side Up Life, a finance blog. “I’ve now passed these lessons down to my own daughters in hopes of gradually improving each generation’s relationship with money.”

Womack has also passed down a positive lesson from her mother: budgeting. “I remember her sitting down to pay bills,” she recalls. “I remember her having the notebooks everywhere with the numbers – and wondering what it was.”

Womack has made sure her daughters know exactly what budgeting is.

3. Jennifer Doss: First-class mom

Jennifer Doss
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Doss

When Jennifer Doss turned 16, her mother made her an authorized user on her credit card. “She wanted me to have something for gas money and emergencies,” recalls Doss, an analyst for Cardratings.com, a credit card ratings site.

But it was more than that.

Doss and her mom sat down each month to review the credit card statement – and ensure the entire balance was being paid off.

“Once I became an authorized user, I felt like I was contributing, which was fun,” Doss says. “As a teen, I felt empowered – like I was contributing to finances.”

And she was. By paying off the balance each month and racking up reward points, Doss says…

“I can remember our family taking a trip to Hawaii, and we were able to use points to upgrade to first class. It was my first time traveling first class!” But thanks to her mother, it wasn’t the last.

4. Daniella Flores: Luxury on a budget

Daniella Flores
Photo courtesy of Daniella Flores

When Daniella Flores turned 16, her mother took her to the bank, where they opened her account.

“She let me know the importance of spending money mindfully,” says Flores, founder of the blog I Like to Dabble. But her mother wasn’t a miser, either.

“She is not the most frugal person,” Flores says. “She likes to be comfortable and really likes fashion and accessories.”

That’s OK, because Flores also says, “She is the most financially savvy person I know!” Her mother sticks to a budget and sets priorities.

Best tip from my mom: “Save your money now so you don’t have to catch up later,” Flores says. “But don’t deprive yourself. You can buy the things that you want and matter to you and still save money.”

5. Barbara Weltman: Finances at the dinner table

Barbara Weltman
Photo courtesy of Barbara Weltman

Barbara Weltman’s mother has a piggy bank in the shape of a bowling pin.

“I would pay attention to what my mother called pin money,” Weltman, president of the consulting firm Big Ideas for Small Business.

“Pin money” is a term that dates back to the 1800s. It was used to describe a husband’s allowance to his wife so she could buy clothing and other items – like pins. But in Weltman’s family, times had thankfully changed.

“She used it to make stock purchases!” she says. The “pin money” also became a topic at mealtime. “We talked about business and money at the dinner table.”

Among those lessons from mom: “Take charge of your money and don’t leave it to others.”

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About the Author

Elizabeth Ayoola

Elizabeth Ayoola

Elizabeth Ayoola is a content specialist and PFE Certified Debt Management Professional through the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) with over 5 years of experience who has carved a niche in finance. She graduated with an MA in Environment, Politics, and Globalization from King’s College London. Throughout the span of her career, she's written for a myriad of platforms including 247 Money Box, POPSUGAR, and Lifehacker. Elizabeth started working with Debt.com in 2020 and now specializes in all things debt and personal finance.

Published by Debt.com, LLC