Mom’s Last Money Lesson

Anyone who has lost someone they love will tell you it’s the holidays that bring back their strongest memories of those people. So, with Mother’s Day fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about my mom who passed away in December of 2003. This year brought back a memory of a conversation we had about money just a couple of months before she died. Lying on a couch, weakened from the effects of cancer, she wanted to talk about the money she and my dad planned to leave my brother and me in their will. Even though my parents were both teachers, they had rarely given us any overt lessons about saving or investing or avoiding credit card debt, so the topic caught me off guard. What would she say? Was she worried that I might mismanage it, as I had an inheritance I received from an uncle 15 years earlier? Would she implore me to save most of it? To invest it conservatively? No. She surprised me with the encouragement to use a portion to buy something just for fun.

It’s possible that my mom was feeling some regret over not spending more on herself. But she also knew that the financial crash and burn I went through had made me very conservative in my use of money. Maybe she thought I had swung too far to the frugal side and wanted to remind me that it’s okay to spend money sometimes just for fun. Of all the final financial advice one could give, making sure we use some money just for fun isn’t bad.

By the way, it took me a few years to follow my mom’s advice, but I finally did buy something just for fun–a nice digital camera. I get a lot of pleasure from pictures taken during great vacations, and from those that remind me of how much our kids have changed in a short amount of time. As an added bonus, when I use that camera to capture a memory, it very often brings back fond memories of my mom.

What great financial advice–either by word or by example–did you get from your mom? Please to let me know.


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