Financial Literacy

Money Matters: Listen to Your Mother

Mothers tend to have an opinion about everything, and the older we get, the more we realize just how right they are! This is especially true when it comes to being smart with money. So the next time your mom offers up some wisdom, consider her advice as a gift to you this Mother’s Day!

Stick to a budget

A recent survey shows that 60% of Americans do not have a budget! You can’t possibly manage your finances without one. An app like Mint will help you create a budget, track your spending and set financial goals. Plus, when you sync all financial accounts to the app, everything is in one place. Budgets lead to a better financial future. Mom wants that.

Monitor your bank balance

While it’s easier than ever to check a balance here or pay a bill there, you may think you don’t need to maintain your own records. You do! You may think your mom is a bit old-school for balancing a ledger, but it’s important to check your account monthly. Cross-reference your spending with your checking account to see if your balance is higher or lower than it should be. Look over receipts, payments and cancelled checks and double check the amounts. If there are any inaccuracies, report them immediately.

Secure your future

While 401(k)s may be going the way of mom jeans, many companies still offer them. If you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers one of them, max it out. You can contribute up to $18,000 this year. It’s the best way to build wealth for your future, and minimize the tax bite – a worker in the 25% tax bracket who contributes the maximum this year will save $4,500 on his 2015 tax bill. If your employer matches contributions (50 cents on the dollar up to a maximum of 6% is common), this will help grow your retirement account balance even faster. For a worker earning $60,000 per year, this employer match – aka “free money” – could be worth as much as an additional $1,800 toward that retirement account. Mom will be so proud!

Save before you spend

Saving before spending is one of the easiest ways to boost wealth and meet your long-term goals. If you are paying yourself last, chances are there may not be much left to save after you’ve covered your housing costs, groceries, and utilities. You may have heard your mother say “pay yourself first”: set aside a certain portion of your income the day you get paid before you spend any discretionary income. Direct deposit is an easy way to save automatically.

Homemade gifts are the best

A large portion of the $173 we are expecting to spend on mom this year will be at restaurants, according to the National Retail Federation. If mom taught you how to cook, avoid the crowds and make her brunch at home. You will be putting the lessons she taught you to work while saving money and showing her how much she’s appreciated in the most personal way!

– Vera Gibbons, Mint Contributor and Personal Finance expert