my mom taught me about finance

Last week, I came across an amazing post by Lean Fire ATL called “A Man is NOT a Retirement Plan”. This post really resonated with me for a lot of reasons, but the number one reason is my mom.

Mom’ s retirement plan

I love my mom. She’s sweet, she’s caring, and she taught me to be kind to animals and those less fortunate then us. She didn’t have any real goals outside of motherhood, but she was a great mother.

My mom did what a lot of young women in the late seventies/early eighties did. She got married and stayed home to take care of the children. Unfortunately for her, being a mother doesn’t pay anything, and her story is one of the main reasons why I decided to strive for financial independence.

Mom’s story

My parents got married and had their first child at relatively young ages. My dad was 19 and my mom was 22 when they had my sister.  They had my brother and I shortly after, so they had three young children before they turned thirty.

They did alright for themselves despite having kids so young and not having college degrees. My mom was a stay at home mom while my dad sold insurance, and when they started their own flyer delivery service my mom chipped in with that. Things weren’t perfect, but we were a family, and that’s all my mom ever wanted.

Related: From Lower Middle Class to Financially Literate

Divorce

Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, it all fell apart. My father had an affair. He moved out of the house when my mom found out. He stopped paying the mortgage and focused on running the business (which was in his name). My mom wasn’t able to keep up with the mortgage. She was a stay at home mom the majority of her life, and she had no marketable skills. She got a job cleaning out kennels at a pet store, but that paid barely enough to keep the lights on.

 

My mom was able to stay in the family home for quite a while the bank went through the foreclosure process. She tried to find a way to stay close to us kids in Illinois, but it was too expensive (Before anyone tries to chastise my mom for not staying with her kids, my sister was 20, my brother was 18 and just started college, and I was about to be a senior in high school by the time she moved. She knew I was going away to college after senior year). Her parents lived in Northern Wisconsin and offered to help her buy a home if she moved up there. With no other options, she packed up and moved up North closer to her parents.

Moving on

After about 20 years of being miserable and lonely in Northern Wisconsin, my mom decided she had enough. My sister helped her move to California. She currently lives in the Mojave Desert and works part time. She likes that it doesn’t snow, and my sister is able to visit her about once per month and help her with things around the house. She’s planning on moving to the East Coast with my sister next year.

What my mom taught me about Finance

My mom didn’t directly teach me anything about finance, but her story served a valuable lesson. I learned that the only person I could ever depend on is myself. My mom thought her marriage would last forever. She depended on my dad to handle the finances. She didn’t realize that he sucked with money, or that he had a more fleeting view of marriage than she did.

I know it’s a cynical view to take, but I learned that even if I get married, I have to look out for myself first. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t gotten married yet. I have a hard time trusting a guy to do small things to take care of me, like cooking me dinner (which probably stems from this, now that I think about it). I can’t even imagine putting my financial security and my entire future into someone else’s hands. My mom got screwed because she trusted the wrong person with these things. I learned from her example to do not the same.

What valuable money lessons did your parents teach you?

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4 thoughts on “What My Mom Taught Me About Finance

  1. I can definitely relate to this story as well. While I was originally working when my husband and I got married, relocating to Japan and being pregnant with our first pushed me towards a being a stay at home. 16+ years later, I still am, always putting my husband’s career and the kids first. Now that the kids are a little older, I’m trying to get back to the workforce, because it’s good for me. You are right, not knowing how I will turn up if my husband ever divorce me is a constant worry for me. One never knows what will happen in the future, you know? I was taking online courses in Guam before I was diagnosed with cancer. I’m always on the lookout how to prepare myself to get back to the workforce so I have something to fall back on, which is my part of my focus on my blog. Thank you for for bring this post to my attention. Great read.

    • Thanks for reading! I am so sorry to hear about the cancer diagnosis, I hope that you are recovering well. It’s true that you never know what the future holds, so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

  2. The hardest lessons are the ones that stick with us. As you noted, you do have to learn how to manage money yourself, because bad things can happen to good people. I really had to step up to the financial literacy plate after my husband had a ruptured brain aneurysm and could no longer work or even make financial decisions with me. Whether it’s divorce, disability or death, you can’t rely on another person to handle everything for you.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s disability. Its very true that divorce isn’t the only thing that can derail a life plan. Thank you for sharing your story.

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