…but even better don’t shop and don’t buy anything you don’t need.
Hmmm… that doesn’t quite have the same tone to it, does it? 😉
In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some lessons she taught me.
1. Don’t buy something cheap if you don’t need it: I certainly know I’ve been guilty of this many, many times. I got a couple very inexpensive dresses that I’ve never worn. I’d be better off putting my money into classic, quality pieces than buying clothing that I will wear only once or twice (or not at all).
2. Know your wants from your needs: Mom always told me that the desire to acquire and to consume are strong desires indeed. It takes discipline to tell yourself, you don’t need that new purse or computer. You want it. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy things you want, but you have to realize that everything has a price and that you’ll pay for it (with the time and energy you spent earning the paycheck). Which brings me to the third lesson…
3. Time vs. money: There’s a negative correlation between the two – you can either have more free time, or you can spend your time to earn more money. Mom said she’d rather not work overtime and sleep in, then to work extra hours and pay for a massage. That’s a choice that must be made, because that old economics adage is true, there’s no free lunch!
4. Know what you’re comfortable with: Although we could have afforded a much larger, nicer house, Mom decided to purchase a smaller condo because she can easily make the payments on it. As she said, the extra one or two bedrooms are just not worth the stress of the additional $500 every month.
5. Never have credit card debt: The high cost of financing isn’t worth it.
6. Understand and accept the consequences of your choices: One of my cousins want to become an actress – she’s really quite good and with some lucky breaks, she might make it. Of course, the chances are against her. Mom said to me, it’s fine if my cousin wants to pursue that, but she must understand the consequences of her choices – namely, that she could very well be poor her whole life. Now, if you can honestly say that’s the sacrifice you’re willing to make, then go for it, but if not, then perhaps it’s time to get an accounting degree and do local theater on the weekends. What you cannot do, is expect a third party (your parents, your spouse) to support you.
7. Beware of the rich-on-paper syndome: During the big real estate boom, like the tech boom several years earlier, many people became richer – on paper. They went out and purchased new TVs and cars, remodeled, invested in risky ventures with their new found sense of wealth. But that money isn’t available until you sell the house or the stocks. Don’t be so caught up in your net worth or gains on paper that you toss budgeting out the window.
8. Save! Don’t count on the government, don’t count on a husband, and don’t count on your children. You are responsible for your retirement – the better off you are in your old age, the more you will enjoy it.
9. But don’t be stingy on the things that count: I guess this depends on each person’s priorities – Mom is a very frugal person. She’s never been one to care about clothes or makeup, or what kind of car she drives, but cutting back in those areas allowed her to invest in things that’s important: namely, my education. By the time my four years are up, my parents will have spent $100,000 on me. Mom did that because she wants me to have the best education possible, without a crushing debt. When my grandma got sick, Mom spent 6 weeks taking care of her. Her savings and accumulated vacation hours at work allowed her to spent the time without worrying about whether the mortgage or my tuition would be paid. And ultimately, the purpose of financial security is to have choices. To never have to decide between caring for a sick mother or paying your bills.