Archive for the ‘Mom’ Category

My mother is a towering figure in my world – I’ve always secretly thought that she can’t possibly be as whip-smart and determined and rational as I think she is… can she?

Fabulously Broke wrote an interesting post on stay-at-home mothers. The post got me thinking… I don’t quite know what to think when it comes to the “debate” on stay-at-home mothers vs. working mothers. Even though I see myself as a working mom, all moms just try to make the best choice they can for themselves and their family, right? Can’t we just ditch the guilt and get along?

My mother always worked, though she always made sure she can pick me up from school and cook me my favorite meals. We didn’t spend a lot of time together otherwise (although Mom DID sit me down and walked me through the calculations of prepaying a mortgage when I was in middle school).

I don’t ever remember wanting more time with her. I suppose it was because I was a fairly private child. I had my books and girlish secrets and I wasn’t a fan of heart-to-hearts. Too awkward and revealing. My thoughts were my own. MINE! (I was also really stubborn).

The only time I remembered missing Mom was when I was very young, when she went to work overseas for almost five years. I grew up with very loving grandparents who coddled me a bit (OK – a lot). Mom missed out on a big chunk of my childhood, but I have never felt bad about it.

It was always something that she had to do in order to give me a better opportunity. If Mom ever suffered any guilt over the situation, it didn’t show.  There was no hand-wringing or second-guessing, at least not in front of her child.

As I grow older, I really think that that no-nonsense manner is the best way to act when a mother (or father, or both, as it was in my case) decides to work overseas, work domestically, or for whatever reason cannot spend as much time with their children as they’d like (or think they should). This matter-of-fact approach shows children that things, while maybe not ideal right now, will eventually be OK.

I think children are resilient and can adapt to most circumstances as long as they know that they are loved and wanted. Don’t introduce guilt or confusion or self-flagellation into the picture. Most kids will do just fine.

Forget Supermom. If I become a mother, I just want to be a guiltless mom.


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Or, at least, my mother’s love.

Mom called me last night and suggested and boyfriend and I go to brunch with her and Dad this weekend. Of course I accepted. Outing with parents = free food! Mmmm… I’m already dreaming of BBQ pork buns and shrimp dumplings.

Even though I have paid for dinner on few special occasions (Dad’s birthday, family gathering with aunts and uncles visting from overseas), my parents still pay for the vast majority of our meals together.

For now, I’m still young enough that the thinking in my family goes: “parents should feed the kid.” I figure I have until 30 before the balances tips to “kid should treat the parents” when it comes to normal meals out.

Does anyone else’s parents do this?

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Hotwire, hot deal!

After researching several hotels (all 4-5-star properties, all at least $175-$200+ per night) for my parents, I decided to give Hotwire.com a try.

For those unfamiliar with Hotwire.com, it’s a travel site that operates on an “opague” or “blind” model. Hotwire.com’s reservation system tells you the general location of a property and its rating, but not its name or address. So instead of Fancy Hotel at 123 Ocean Street, you’d get the information such as 4.5-star hotel in Waterfront District, amenties include Spa, Tennis, Restaurant, etc. prior to booking.

This time, I got lucky. I managed to book the Omni Hotel for a Saturday night for $90(!). Add on another 15% in taxes and fees, and the total bill still comes to below $110. A quick look on the hotel’s website shows that the best available rate is $219/night.

My parents is getting a night at a luxurious hotel. I am paying a price that’s 50% off the published rate. This is what I call a win-win situation. 🙂

Hotwire.com is not for everyone. It’s certainly NOT flexible and NOT for someone who has an exact hotel in mind (the change/cancel policy is simple – there is none! It’s impossible to change your reservation once you’ve clicked “Confirm”).

If you are willing to be a bit more flexible with hotel selection and are sure about your trip, give it atry. I’ve booked rooms through Hotwire twice now, and both times have been satisfied with the hotels I’ve been received.

Do you use Hotwire.com? What has been your experience?

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How’s that for alliteration?! 😉

For June (combination Father’s Day and Dad’s birthday), I’m sending my parents to a weekend getaway.

Even though Mom and Dad explicitly told me that they “don’t need to stay in a nice hotel,” I feel weird sending them to anywhere that’s less than 4 stars.

It’s not that I’m a hotel snob, I’d stay quite happily at budget hotels or a hostel. But this is supposed to be a gift. To my parents. It’s suppose to be luxurious.

I don’t think they’d mind staying at a nice, 3 star place. Yet, a night at the local inn just doesn’t say “present” to me.

So because of a self-imposed threshhold on quality, location, and service, I’m looking at hotels in the $200/night range.

Thank goodness it’s for only one night!

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Mom’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Dad’s birthday all in a span of less than two months.

We’re not a big gift-giving family, so when I was younger we didn’t really exchange gifts in the family (I did get cash for birthday/Christmas). But now that I’m working, I feel a responsibility to actually give, you know, real gifts. $5.99 picture frames, which I brought with my allowance (i.e. Mom’s money), will no longer cut it.

But my parents aren’t big shoppers – and Mom hates clutter. So I’ve found that the best gifts are experiences that they wouldn’t spend on themselves.

So in June, in time for Father’s Day and Dad’s birthday, I’ll send them on a weekend getaway (paying for the hotel. Same system as the Christmas present). In the meantime, I checked hotwire.com to see what deals I can get. My budget is $125/night. A quick search reveals some 4 star hotels that fit my price range. Perfect!

You know what’s really exciting? I think I’m done figuring out what’s a good gift for my parents. EVER. There is always a weekend getaway or a bed-and-breakfast retreat or a vacation or a cruise to go on. I am now set for life with my gifting ideas. 😉

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The ties that bind

Personal finance, as we pf bloggers like to say, is just as much “personal” as it is “finance.” But where does the personal come from? Isn’t it a little jarring to realize that despite the fact that we grow up, leave home, and set out on our lives as adults, there are notions and beliefs that are ingrained in us.

Sometimes, we don’t even realize what they are, or that we have them… but those ties? Oh do they ever bind.

  • Earning ability is a terrible thing to lose (or, I must work). I attribute this to my mother, who has a work ethic like nobody’s business, and her friends, who seemed to have disappointing marriages where they either (1) ended up as the sole provider, not by choice or (2) became unable to leave a bad situation because they were financially dependent on their spouse. Giving up one’s earning ability is a very big gamble, and from what I’ve seen, that gamble hasn’t turned out too well for many people.
  • My financial responsibility to my kid includes college expenses. The influence? Again, my mother. Her view is that her responsibility as a parent is to provide the best “launching pad” possible to her child. I can’t scrimp and save as she has for my college education (though I will be eternally grateful that she did so), but I plan to save at least 1/2 of the college expenses for my child so that I can help him/her graduate with a manageable debt level. No matter what, I can’t imagine not giving substantial help. My mom will probably be disappointed if I didn’t at least make a concerted effort to help my kid pay for college.
  • It’s not pretty to be old and poor. Apparently, the best way to encourage your child to be financially responsible is to impress upon her the dire consequences of being old AND poor. (Young and poor? No problem, work hard and save! Old and financially-secure? Enjoy your retirement. But old AND poor? Beware, beware!)  Fear is a useful weapon, use it wisely. Because, let me tell you, it works! Those Louboutins are tempting, but they are no match for Mom’s stories of the unfortunate elderly who must reside in a poorly-run nursing home or be denied access to the newest medical treatments because they lack financial resources.

Those three are the ones that come to the top of my head. What are your “ties that bind”? Do we have any one in common?

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If you’ve ever wondered that, you should read this MSN article (via Escape Brooklyn).

I think I got lucky. My mom is a pretty savvy lady when it comes to money. Though my parents had a relatively late start to retirement planning and investing, they’ve done okay for themselves and are continuing to amass a little nest egg.

Sometimes I’m surprised at how progressive Mom is – she has never said “promise you won’t put us in a home,” instead, it’s “we want to prepare financially so that if/when we have to go to a retirement community, we can go to a nice one, or we can hire in-home aid.”

When family friends and relatives joke that when I become financially stable I will take care of my parents, Mom always interject, “the responsibility of children, when they grow up, is first to their family and kids.” She also said to me many times that the greatest gift she can leave me is peace of mind.

After reading this article, I come away with greater gratitude for Mom’s wise choices. I hope that if/when I become a mom, I can be as wise as she is.

To my readers:

Do you think you will have to support your parents in their retirement?

If you are a parent, would you expect your children to support you in your retirement? Either way, (how) do you make your expectations known?

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I’m turning into my mother

I’ve realized that I spend WAY too much time idly surfing the web when I’m home – which is a little ridiculous, given that I spend all day staring at a computer at work.

So, like my mother did during my middle school and high school days, I’m imposing a Internet Time Limit on myself during weekday nights – 30 minutes (45 minutes MAX).

It’s time to use my evenings for more productive pursuits, such as, oh, I don’t know, studying for the GMAT.

Okay.. my time today is up!

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2 nights at Mandalay Bay for my parents over Christmas: $300

Being able to treat my parents to a nice hotel? Fully awesome! (if you do not get this reference, you need to see Bolt.)

I haven’t expected to give such a big gift this year, but when I was talking to Mom over the phone last night, she mentioned that she and my dad are going to Vegas for a weekend after Christmas.

Now, this is a pretty big deal for my parents. From the time I was 12 to the time I graduated college, I don’t think they’ve ever taken more than a couple of days for themselves. They saved vacation days for family visits / caretaking duties overseas. They saved their money for my college education expenses and down payments and retirement funds.

So when I heard about the Vegas trip, I was so excited. I decided that the best gift I can give this Christmas is to treat them to a nice hotel. I originally thought about putting them up at the Venetian, but Mom vetoed the idea because it was too expensive (over $450 for the same two nights). The Mandalay Bay is still nice, just a little far from the center of the Strip, but Mom said she didn’t mind the drive.

So, Mandalay it is.

And the funny thing is? The part that really makes me smile? Is that I know my mom will tell her relatives and friends about this, and that in addition to all the enjoyment she will get out of her luxury hotel, she will also get to feel like she raised a good daughter.

And that? Is money well spent.

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Momspiration, momspectations

I talked to my mom tonight – she is planning to buy another house next spring and rent out the condo that my parents currently live in. Prices have depressed to around 2004 levels in the area they are looking ($500K for a house). I wonder how long it will take me to buy my own place…

Every time I talk to my mom, I either (1) feel a jolt of inspiration because she has just done so many amazing things, and I’m so proud to be my mother’s daughter, or (2) feel chagrined and inadequate because I don’t think I’m acting enough like my mother’s daughter.

I love my mom, but there’s a whole lot of living-up to do when your mom was the smartest girl in her class, built a life from scratch in a foreign country, and is always right. Some times I don’t want to admit it, but she is right 99% of the time. It’s scary! Fortunately, tonight’s conversation was definitely more (1) than (2).

We talked about the economy, and my parent’s financial plans, and how difficult frugality can be. I told her I’m saving $2,000 a month. She thought I was only saving $1,000+ a month, which means, score! I’m exceeding her expectations in this area. 😉 (But of course her saving prowess puts me to shame.)

I told Mom that it’s hard to save $2,000 a month. I know I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to save that much, but it’s hard not to spend just a little more. (For example, there were a pair of darling Nine West Mary Jane’s on sale at the nearby DSW. Don’t worry, I resisted. Barely.)

She told me that I’m to take care of all my parents’ finances when they become older. It’s a good thing I’m learning about all this money stuff now, right?

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