(Isaac with his first piggy bank at 2 weeks old.)
In this space I typically talk about my tits and such, but today I want to talk about money since I’m a financial coach in real life. Having been in financial services for the past 16 years, I’ve seen women make easily preventable mistakes with their money, including myself. Now, as a mom and wife, the stakes are higher. If I fail financially then my family will likely fail too.
We cannot expect our kids to make wise financial decisions in order to become wealthy when we don’t set an example. Yes, Boo, your financial baggage can and will be passed on to your kids if you don’t stop it. So… am I going to help you teach your kids about money? Nah, Ma, that ain’t my ministry! BUT I will bring to light some common money mistakes moms make so you can know better, do better, and lead by example. Without further ado…
Money Mistakes Moms Make:
1. No clear understanding of their “why”
Your “why” is what drives you. It motivates you when you’re feeling low and want to quit but don’t. Your why is what drags you out of bed when you want to binge watch TV and eat Oreos all damn day. Your why is what keeps you from cussing folks out because you are fresh out of f*cks. Figuring out your why is a must to maintain your focus. A few of my whys are: I don’t want to be poor, I don’t want my son to be poor, I like nice sh*t, and I want to be free to make my own decisions. These values ground me on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Girl, go find your why!
2. Daily actions are not grounded in vision
You cannot be what you cannot see. In order to build wealth you must have a well-defined, concrete vision of what life looks like for you and your family. It’s as easy as taking a pen to paper and writing what you want your life to look like by the end of the year, then in March, in June and so on. Don’t focus on how you will achieve it just yet. Planning comes later but first you have to see it. My vision board is prominently posted in my bedroom as a reminder of where I’m going. I reference it daily to mentally check off what has been accomplished and remind myself of what needs to be done.
3. Too much focus on acquiring material things
I get it… you like to look good in the newest clothes, shoes, handbags, etc and you want your kids to look good too. But is this the value you want to model to your children? For every dollar you spend on “stuff”, you should at least have that much set aside in savings and investments. And for you thrifty moms… just because it came from Goodwill or was on-sale is just as bad. That money has a better use especially if it was spent on something they don’t need. I know this is hard to do because we love our kids and want them to have a good life but when has a sweater put money in your savings account?
4. They hate saying no
Girl, bye! You better teach that child to practice patience by making them wait. Teach them discipline so they set aside their allowance until they have enough to buy it on their own. You can also say no and explain to them how much more money they could have later if they saved it. Another idea is to set money aside every week or month (loose change or $1 bills depending on your situation) and then have a savings celebration at the end of the year. It is a good way to reinforce delayed gratification. Momma, this goes for you too. Sometimes we have to say no now to have more later.
5. They don’t talk about money as a family
This is the toughest one yet. Kids think because you work everyday that *tada* you magically have money that’s all for them. They don’t understand the impact of taxes, savings, and investments, and expenses like keeping a roof over their head, clothes on their back, and food in their little greedy bellies. It’s your job to explain money to them. We’ve already introduced the concept of money to our two year old. He understands you get money when you work, you use money to buy stuff, and money goes in the piggy. He also understands that we cannot spend the money in the piggy; it’s for later.
If you have older kids, you can do any of the following: make them responsible for reviewing one of the monthly bills like the mortgage or rent, cell phone, or cable to understand how much it costs and how that expense impacts other bills; encourage them to start a business; pay them an hourly wage for their chores that goes into a savings account; take them to the library for age appropriate books on money that you can read together and discuss over dinner. The possibilities are endless! And guess what? You’ll learn something new or reinforce what you already know. You got this, Momma.
6. No safety net for when sh*t happens
Your financial safety net should include as a baseline: 3 to 6 months of fixed expenses; health insurance if you or the kids are ill or have a hospital stay; disability insurance (in case you fall and can’t get up); car insurance; life insurance for you and da pappy of that baby; and renters insurance if you are… well, renting. There are plenty of other things you can have in place but these are the basics. And please heed my advice about the life insurance. I swear fo’ God I am not giving a dime to your Go Fund Me!
Alexandria M. Cummings is a wife, mom, and financial coach. You can find her on Twitter spreading the gospel of smart spending and saving. She resides in Chicago with her husband and son.
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