I am lucky to have a young mom. She had me when she was only 18. And even though it made my teenage years hellish for both of us, it has really helped us to be able to relate on a deeper level later in life.
My mom is an entrepreneur. When I was growing up, she tried everything — from Tupperware to Mary Kay to eventually starting a successful career in real estate. She's incredibly smart, she raised five kids with a husband who worked bizarre and very long hours, and she managed to do it all with a clean house (some might say *too* clean), all in a way that made it all seem effortless.
When you are a woman and you're trying to figure out who you are, taking advice from your mom is a hard pill to swallow. There was a good stretch of time where I thought my mom was the last person on earth that I would turn to for advice because to me, she didn't seem to know anything at all. Of course, that was until I became an adult and started to view the world through the eyes of a mother; the working mom, with small kids, bills to pay, sports to run around to, school functions to get to and a busy (or, in my case, non-existent) husband.
Now, I depend on my mom for advice on almost all of life's topics. But I mainly turn to her for advice when it comes to money. Because I have seen my parents struggle, but I have also seen them raise a family and take their children amazing vacations, offer them expensive sports, and allow them lavish parties. As an adult, I desperately need to know her secrets.
Here are eight questions I always ask my mother about money.
1. What do you think of this mortgage?
Or, what's the best kind of mortgage? What are the different options and what interest rate is actually good? My mom has bought and sold many properties over the years, and one thing she does well is houses. She's my go-to on all things home and home remodeling.
2. How should I do my taxes?
My mom is a tax goddess. She has taught me so much about the best ways to keep track of expenses, how to keep receipts where I can actually find them, and what kind of spreadsheets work (and which don't). Maybe her best advice? What I should and shouldn't be itemizing come tax time.
3. How can I make the most of my groceries?
If there is one thing my mom learned how to do well, it's shop for a large family. She knows the meals that will feed the most mouths for the least amount of money. She also knows what I can buy at a deal — and what I can keep in my pantry until it goes on sale again. My mom might not be "frugal," but she definitely knows how to stretch a dollar.
4. How did you pay for my sports teams?
My kids are part of numerous school and sports activities. My mom understands how important activities and extra-curriculars are to growing children, but she also relates to having to realize that sometimes, you just can't do it all for your kids (even if you want to).
Recently, my toddler was asked to join a tumbling team that, quite frankly, I couldn't afford. I called my mom, and she reminded me that a three-year-old is just happy to be in a sport. She doesn't need the bells and whistles at this age, because she's not aware that there is anything else out there for her! If I chose to move her up, I would be doing myself (and possibly her) a disservice. And she was right.
5. How can I save money on bills?
My mom was the one running around the house turning all of the lights off, yelling "are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood!" as she closed the back door on a hot summer day. But now that I have kids that do these same (maddening) things, I understand that she was just trying to save money. And whenever I need a way to squeeze something out of nothing, I can usually find it with my mom's help.
6. How should I invest my money?
As someone who has learned a few tough lessons over the years, my mom knows the best places to invest (and not invest) money. She knows about the different options for investing — whether it be stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, real estate and everything in between. And I trust her to know the best place to put my money for safe keeping.
7. What donations are you making?
My mom understands that there are people less fortunate in this world, and that it takes a village to keep all of this going. She has lived through her own struggles, and lived to tell about it. So now, she gives back. But in order to hear about this amazing gratitude of hers, you must ask. She won't tell you, and she doesn't share how she's giving back. She's humble. I ask for her guidance in how to give back myself, and find out what causes she's supporting. It's empowering and inspiring.
8. How should I plan my inheritance?
What would you do with everything you've worked so hard for, if you were going to be gone tomorrow? My mom knows the best plan for what to do should the unthinkable happen, and she knows the best way to make sure that even in death, she's not putting a burden on her children.
As much as I consider myself to be an independent woman, there are some things it's just best to turn to mom for. When it comes to money, my mom has learned lessons the hard way. And if I have a free resource for all things financial, why wouldn't I go to her to ask the tough questions?
If you would have told me when I was 15 that I would have considered my mom an expert on ANYTHING, I would have laughed. But here I am, sticking my foot in my mouth and calling my mom to find out if she knows where I can get baseball gear at a discount. Thanks, mom.
Nicole is a realtor, divorced mom of three, and ally to the transgender community. As a mom who achieved her graduate degree alongside growing her family, she understands the importance of finding a work/life balance. Follow her on her blog where she focuses on family, parenting, divorce, and experiences of raising a young transgender child.