My mom was never a financial expert. She came from a poor Southern family who raised hens to sell eggs. I'm not really sure you could have more humble beginnings.
But she took old-fashioned advice like "work hard" seriously. By the time she married my dad, had me, and moved to a suburb outside of Atlanta, she had established a good corporate career where she moved up quickly.
Together, my parents transitioned from families who lived not much higher than the poverty line to upper middle class -- and in the process, gave me a huge head start in life.
My mom managed to impart a wealth of lessons for me along the way, even though she never did so intentionally. Even though they came through simple moments, she empowered me to reach the level of financial success I enjoy today.
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1. Money is not a taboo topic
My mom didn't need to sit me down and present an in-home economics course. She didn't need to define financial terms or give math lessons complete with examples to get her point across.
What was more important for me was watching her sit down on a regular basis with her checkbook to track spending and pay bills every month. She made an effort to sit down with me to answer questions and explain concepts when I asked about something specific related to money.
2. Where money really comes from
Unless it was my birthday or Christmas, my mom didn't give me money for nothing. It was a great lesson to learn early on: In the real world, no one hands you money unless you've earned it. You're expected to work for what you have and what you want.
Mom taught me -- both through her example of hard work and through requiring that I earn money through chores or good grades -- that you had to exchange something for money. You had to work.
3. The real value of a dollar
Mom also taught me that money is valuable because, for the most part, it's a finite resource that you have to work to earn. It won't just appear when you need it and it's not always easy to acquire. That's why it can't be taken for granted or spent without thought.
She also never said money was evil. She never blamed problems on a lack of money (or made wealthy people out to be "bad" for having more money than us). My mom made it clear that money itself wasn't a moral issue. It was valuable because it was a tool that could be used to secure a more comfortable and stable life for ourselves and others.
4. Appreciate what you already have
My mom let me get away with pulling the "but so-and-so has one!" card more than once, but she was also very serious about making sure I said please and thank you for everything I did have instead of complaining about what I didn't.
Learning to be appreciative when I was younger has translated into me not particularly caring what possessions other people have as an adult. I have zero desire to keep up with the Joneses.
When anyone says, "I can't believe you've had your [insert material good] here for [x amount of time]! You need to buy a new one!" I just shrug and say, "but this one still works just fine. Why would I spend money on something I don't need when I have so much already?"
If it ain't broke, it ain't getting fixed or replaced. And even when it is broken, I'll make do for as long as I can get away with it. I feel less of a need to constantly spend because I focus my energy on appreciating the great stuff I already have in my life.