Whether you’re conscious of it or not, the way we approach our finances typically has a lot to do with what we learned about money as children. A lot of times, that learning — both good habits and bad — comes directly from your mom. In many families, the mom is the Chief Financial Officer of the family — moms tend to manage family expenses such as groceries, household goods and entertainment spending. You can probably learn a lot about your own money values by thinking back to what you remember your mom doing with money as a child and how that impacted you. Here’s how you can start becoming conscious of your inherited money story in order to better understand your relationship with money.
What’s your family money story?
Financial experts often talk about the concept of a “family money story” when trying to help people uncover their money values. Your family money story refers to all of the feelings, conversations and events around money that took place in your home while you were growing up. Sometimes a family money story can lead to a deep sense of money shame, which can be difficult to work through as an adult. And keep in mind, while you might have a positive family money story, your partner’s might be subtly different — which could account for clashes between how you view money.
As an adult you have a choice whether to repeat your family money story or create a new one for yourself.
How does your mom play a role in your money story?
In many families, moms play a huge role in making the executive decisions around family purchases, so there’s a chance that your mom’s outlook on money played a role in your outlook on how to spend money. Here are some situations where how your mom approached money could impact you.
Scenario 1: Your mom was frugal
If your mom was frugal growing up because she liked to stay on a budget, or because money was tight, this has likely impacted you in one of two ways: either you’re also frugal, or you rebel against your childhood and like to spend.
While developing frugal money habits can help you with your savings goals, if you developed a mindset that “money is always tight,” there’s a chance you could be dealing with money shame or even be fearful to use your money in ways that will help build it — like starting a business or investing it. You might also have a partner who was raised a different way and doesn’t understand where your frugality comes from. If this is a value of yours, knowing where it comes from can help you develop more pride in your finances and get on the same page with your partner — and how you want to raise your children.
Scenario 2: Your mom was a spender
If your mom didn’t have a tendency to save money while you were growing up, there’s a chance you might not have the tools in place to determine on your own what purchases are needs versus wants. If you were used to getting almost anything you wanted as a child, you might also want that as an adult, despite having a lot more bills to pay now that you’re older.
This could also lead to feelings of money guilt, especially if you are not able to provide your children with the same gifts or experiences that your mom gave to you. Realizing that your money values are different than your mom’s were, and that you’re choosing to opt for a different money approach with your children, could be a huge step toward feeling more confident with your financial choices in adulthood.
Scenario 3: Money stressed your mom out
Did you often see your mom stressing over bills? Letting unopened bills stack up on the counter? Fighting with your dad about finances? If finances were viewed in a negative light in your home growing up, it could leave a lasting impact. Maybe your mom didn’t have the confidence to deal with all of the financial pressures in your home growing up — but that doesn’t mean you have to be the same way. If you’re noticing that money stresses you out, have a negative attitude about money, reflect on how this could have come for your childhood and which elements of your family money story you want to change for your future.
Scenario 4: Your mom never talked about money
If your mom viewed money as something to keep private, there’s a chance you didn’t grow up with an understanding of how much money your family had, how bills were paid or how to manage a household budget. These might be skills you have to learn from scratch in adulthood, like many people around the world. Feeling as though personal finances are a taboo subject can create isolating situations in adulthood, especially if you need advice or tips on how to handle your money. Learning how to break free from money shame and talk openly about your finances with people you trust could be part of your journey when it comes to developing your own money story today.
12 Real-life memories of moms and money
One thing about moms — a lot of them can come up with some creative solutions to stretch a dollar. Leave it to moms, they can usually find a way to make it from paycheck to paycheck. We asked our community to share their favourite memories of thrifty solutions their moms came up with, and what they learned about money from their moms. Here are their responses.
“Never have a joint bank account with anyone. Keep your paychecks separate and have one that you pool everything into, because then you can’t question the other person if there’s something missing, because that could create a fight.
When you know that you’re getting your next paycheck, whatever is left, throw it into your savings so you’re slowly building a nest egg.”
My mom was always very thrifty. She did a lot of sewing. A lot of my elementary school photos are handmade outfits from my mom.
I would get my sister’s hand-me-downs, but before my mom would give them to me she would tailor them a different way so they were different so I wouldn’t complain. She was fantastic at homemade Halloween costumes. That’s where i get my love for halloween from.”
“My mom made nefty blankets.she taught us traditional ways of living, such as making bannock, cooking moose meat, fish, berry picking. Most of all to help one another and to teach her teachings to others.”
“My Mum (God rest her soul), taught me that spending time with your kids one on one is very important to create a bond that’s everlasting. The thriftiest thing my mom did was make our Halloween costumes. I carry that tradition today.”
‘I remember my Mom sitting on the oven door of the old kitchen stove taking apart used clothing sent us by our richer American cousins, and making us beautifully sewn clothing, from under clothes (from a silk WWII parachute) to coats. We were the best dressed girls in town.”
“My mom saved scraps of material to later make doll clothes for my sister and myself. She taught me to be a scrupulously clean house keeper.”
“Mom taught me how to cook, bake bread, pies, cakes, cookies and how to cook for a lot of kids on a low income. She taught me how to garden and freeze vegetables for winter. She was great.”
“My mother made all of my skating dresses from my competition days and then made my prom dress!”
“Scraping the last bit of marg from the foil, and cleaning out jam jars REALLY well. Lol.”
“My mom grew up in the 1930s on the farm of her grandparents. Winter coats, sent from Toronto, were taken apart and turned I side out, and then resewn. When I was a kid, my play pants had knee patches. I am 60 plus [years old], have a farm of my own, and my pants have knee patches. She would say, if you have soil, you can eat. We always planted vegetables.”
“My mom always kept on telling us not to spend money on the things that we don’t need, we need to save our money for the things we need.”
“My mom taught me that even though she sometimes had to search for 20 cents to buy a can of Alpha cream to make a bottle of milk for me when I was a baby, youngest of four, living in skid shacks following my Dad who worked on the road crews building the roads in Alberta in the 60’s, that no matter how hard life gets or how poor you are… you never give up!”
“My mom learned to sew in residential school. She was there from 5 to 18. She made clothes and cleaned floors. She was trained to be a cleaner, nothing else. She was also badly abused in there and lost most of her languages and culture. She left with a grade six [education], taught herself everything and became an icon in the community. She was an advocate and a teacher, community developer. She taught us to always fight for what we believe in and to overcome anything put in front of us. I still sew and advocate for the inner city. I earned a master’s degree raising four children. They are all adults now and I have beautiful grandchildren.”