The gift of motherhood
My daughter, Jessica, was born on Mother’s Day 25 years ago last week. It seems just a breath ago. I don’t feel older (OK, my knees hurt), but I am a bit wiser. I know I still have a lot to learn, too. As mothers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to teach, guide and set the example for our children in many areas of financial prowess. Knowingly or not, moms have a huge influence over our children’s money mindsets. Most of us didn’t get overt lessons on financial literacy growing up, but much was learned by what we heard or saw happening at home. Understanding our own money attitudes and making adjustments when necessary will help promote healthy, positive, self-confident skills in our families. It is usually Mom who has children in tow when she goes to the store. What messages are heard? I remember doing things wrong — bribing, cajoling and a few threats of bodily harm — as I made my way down the aisles with a 5- and 1-year-old.
There were many learning opportunities, too. We would talk about the fallacy of the words “Mrs. Howard, you saved $24 today” on my receipt. Really? Did I put that money away for future use? No — I just didn’t spend as much as I would have had I not bought things on sale. We have a warped sense of savings. Unless you are actually taking the money you would have spent and putting it in the bank, you didn’t save anything. It is one of the biggest marketing lies that we face every day.
If you want to instill an empowerment mentality with your kids, try using the phrase “No, we are not buying that today; we are here to buy ___” instead of “No, we can’t afford that.” It is about making choices. How do we make wise ones and learn from the poor ones? We want to build a sense of well-being and instill an attitude of gratitude.
Your home needs to be a safe place to talk about money. Our kids are bombarded every day with the cultural pull of “more.” How do we answer and handle the “But everyone else has one” comment? It isn’t easy and takes time, but discussions around earning, giving, saving and spending need to take precedence over Internet and TV time. Make it fun, and keep it real. We want our kids to have healthy, productive and meaningful lives, and money is a vital part of that. There are discussions that need to happen — even when they are 25!
At the other end of the life spectrum, mothers have another important financial part to play. As females, we are statistically fated to follow our male counterparts to the grave. End-of-life decisions about money will be our responsibility. How do you prepare your heirs for what they will inherit financially? If you love your children equally, you will treat them uniquely. How much is enough for yourself, how much is enough for your children, and what do you want to do with what is left over? Each family situation is different, and family members need to have meaningful conversations about what is important to them and what they want to accomplish.
A beautiful legacy gift a mother can leave is an “ethical will.” This is where your family’s true wealth can be found. An ethical will, or legacy letter, is documentation of your family history, stories and values. It is an opportunity to pass on something of more value than any stock or piece of real estate. It can be written at any age. Don’t wait — start today. Take the time to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or voice to recording. Detail what is important to you, memories that have made you into who you are, life lessons and your spiritual journey.
Being a mom has been the delight of my heart. My kids have helped broaden my view of the world and my small part in making a positive difference. I hope you will take the time to consider what beliefs, values, methods, meaning, techniques and training you want to confer on your children at age 5, 25, 50 and beyond.
Danielle Howard is a certified financial planner practitioner. Her financial life planning office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. She and her team take a personal interest in your financial well-being. Visit her at http://www.howardfinancialresources.com, or call 970-927-3909. Advisory services are offered through Lighthouse Financial LLC, a registered investment adviser. Securities are offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker, dealer and member of FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and Howard Financial Resources are not affiliated.
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