Apartment Therapy Mom Wisdom on… Not Blowing Your Money
My very first inklings of how money worked came from my mom’s teachings—I learned the basics about jobs and credit cards from her (and then, you know, school and then living on my own and needing to figure everything out took over and taught me the rest). The point is, many of us wouldn’t know how to budget without the help of our parents. So, we posed a question to our moms: What’s your best advice for not blowing your money? And the major takeaways? They mostly all agreed that you should skip impulse buying, pay off your credit cards ASAP, and save save save. Here’s what they had to say…
Start saving immediately.
“Always put some money in savings or sound investments—even if it is just a little—starting yesterday.” — Terry (mom to our Human Resources Coordinator, Louisa)
Avoid impulse buys by giving yourself time.
“Avoid impulse buys. When you see something you think you have to have, walk away. Tell yourself you will give it a ‘think’ and come back for it later. Many times, you realize later, you don’t need it at all. When you continue to load up your credit card with little purchases, it’s amazing how much those small purchases can mount up to a big, big number. Write down what you spend on regular purchases in a given day or week—you’ll be surprised by how much you spend each month on that latte. When you have a pricey expenditure coming up, decide how much you want to spend ahead of time. Try to stick to it!” — Carol (mom to our Senior Video Producer, Anne)
Think before you buy, and look for bargains.
“Before buying anything, ask: ‘Need, or want?’ If ‘need,’ bargain shop for the best price first. Search online, look for coupons—even if you forgot to ahead of time, when in line to pay, start searching websites to see if you can find coupons online. Don’t be afraid to ask the cashier if any coupons are available—more often than not, they have extras at the register. Buy in bulk with coupons—stock up on the ‘need’ list that you use always (detergent, shampoo, paper products, etc.). When it’s a ‘want’ item, leave it behind, but maybe there’s a want you are willing to save up for (example: a new mattress or a purse)—then, gradually save up for it, but hunt for the best prices before jumping in on the splurge. Don’t fall for name brands—let the Kardashians of the world pay $100 for a daily moisturizer.” — Patty, (mom to our Marketplace Audience Development Manager, Lauren)
Use cash, not cards whenever you can.
“I would recommend paying cash for things other than bills whenever possible. It’s harder to throw actual dollars away!” — Nancy (mom to our Editorial Coordinator, Nora)
Keep it simple, give back, and prioritize your wants.
“Make a simple budget—don’t overthink it. You control your budget, it doesn’t control you. The key word is ‘simple’. Total all of your basic monthly expenses, subtract that from your monthly income. How do you manage the leftovers? Give a percentage away. Just once a day or once a week, treat someone to coffee, lunch or dinner. Turn to the person ahead of you in the checkout line and pay their bill—it’s incredibly rewarding. Give to your favorite charity. This will actually help you be less focused on yourself and you’ll become more thankful for what you have. Save 10 percent for an emergency. And the fun part (actually the crucial part that keeps you from spending every dime you make): make a list of what you want—when you write it out, it helps you to process without pressure. Prioritize with financial boundaries—what’s most important to you? Goals will help you keep them.” — Joni (mom to our Office Manager, Rachelle)
Invest in your happiness, and live simply.
“Assuming you have money to ‘blow’ is a problem! That is never a good thing. My best advice is to avoid ‘quick fixes’ that lead to impulsivity and debt. It’s best to invest in improving your day-to-day experience; your daily routine and life. This can mean getting a babysitter more than you think you need to if you have young kids, taking a class to keep you interested, or taking time for just you—take day or weekend trips if possible. Once your day to day feels less stressful, that’s a good time to plan a bigger trip or investment (if you have the funds). When you know what you value, your choices become more clear. Living simply is always the answer, even if you have a lot of money.” — Maggie (mom to our Associate Sales Director, Grace)
Save with the future in mind.
“Start saving a percentage of every paycheck towards retirement and a long term savings goal. Stick with your budget and pay off whatever you charge every month, so not to carry over a balance.” — Katherina (mom to our Production Assistant, Anita)
Avoid keeping a credit card balance.
“Start saving for retirement as soon as you get your first job. After you get paid, put allotted monies aside for rent, bills, food and savings (the necessities) and then pay yourself. If you have extra money left over, either take less next paycheck, or treat yourself. Try never to buy things full price and always try to use coupons. If you use a credit card, always pay the bill off each month. You do not want to waste your money on interest payments.” — Mona (mom to our Sales Marketing Coordinator, Ariel)
Set aside more than you need, then save the rest.
“Figure out your highest monthly bill (of the ones that vary in cost) and use that amount for each, then divide by four and put it aside. Your rent or mortgage is always the same, so divide that by four. Add the two together and set that amount aside each week to budget for the month. Anything that’s left over, keep aside for savings or in case of emergency.” — Susan (my mom – Brittney, Assistant Lifestyle Editor)