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Your Take: Mother’s Day Lessons

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With Mother’s Day around the corner, some blogs will point out that Mother’s Day is a Hallmark Holiday. It’s a day made so commercial that sometimes it seems like it was created just to sell Mother’s Day cards! Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the sentiment of Mother’s Day is on point and we should celebrate out mothers.

On this, the Friday before Mother’s day, I am curious to know what important money lessons has your mother taught you?

Mine was that everything is negotiable and it’s a core part of the purchasing process. If you aren’t negotiating, then you’ve failed to realize that a negotiation has taken place (they’ve thrown out a price, you’ve implicitly accepted it), but it still took place.

It would take many years for me to recognize that negotiation always takes place. In some places, negotiation happens out in the open. When we went to the Bahamas and wandered about the open markets, you would negotiate any purchase. You asked how much, they said $20, you countered with $5, they said $15, … and you arrived at $12. Kids sell conchs on the side of the road for $10 each, you can get two for $5… if you negotiated.

I feel like we, as Americans, are losing this gift because we aren’t exposed to it from an early age. It’s one of the greatest tools in capitalism and it makes markets more efficient. When you go into a retail store, there is zero negotiation. The item has to be priced just right in order to sell. High enough to make a profit, low enough to sell to a customer.

I’m not always comfortable negotiating, I blame that on malls, but when it’s socially acceptable, it’s a fantastic time.

Thanks Mom!

(Photo: mikelehen)

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29 Responses to “Your Take: Mother’s Day Lessons”

  1. Glenn Lasher says:

    My mother taught me how to compare prices when shopping. She taught me this at a very young age (maybe I was five or six, possibly even four?) and I remember the lesson to this day.

    It seems there used to be (may still be, haven’t gone looking for it since then) a product on the market where they had squirted peanut butter and jelly into one jar in sort of a striped pattern. The idea was that you could make a peanut butter sandwich in one fell swoop.

    She pointed out to me that this was expensive. I looked at the price on the jar, and compared it to the sum of the prices for the jars of peanut butter and jelly that she was buying, and pointed out that the separate jars cost more. She pointed out that the separate jars went a lot further, and this started a whole conversation on unit prices, etc.

    That was the first of many conversations on the topic of handling money.

    To this day, my Mom trusts me to help her find deals on things when she is in unfamiliar territory. Even further, I am currently helping her step through a slight variation of the Dave Ramsey program, which I figure is only fair. She helped me learn to handle money, now I’m putting it to good use to help her.

  2. michael says:

    glenn, that product is still sold. it is called ‘goober grape’.

  3. cubiclegeoff says:

    I think unintentionally my mom taught me to save money as much as possible, but also enjoy things when you can. Also, although my dad was always big on negotiating for big items and trying to find the best price, my mom is the one that would put it into practice (like when they were buying a new car, my dad pretty much was ready to take it at any price and not fight for a decent price, my mom was the one that did the hard negotiating and ended up with a great deal).

  4. This is going to seem very off-topic, but I’d suggest fantasy sports to aid in building of negotiating skills. Trades can require a lot of negotiation.

  5. Ryan says:

    My mom told me never to rely on credit cards.

  6. Greg says:

    Actually, you can negotiate at retail stores, box stores and malls. Not prime merchandise, but clearance, odd sizes, and anything else cluttering up floor space.

    The day before Christmas my local Home Depot had one Thomas the Train inflatable lawn ornament left; $99 marked down to $60. I asked an employee for a discount, they said “No.” I asked to speak to the manager (nicely). I said “If you give me and additional discount on that Thomas, I will buy it right now. He said “$30?” I said “Sure!”

  7. Martha says:

    My mom taught me to always pay off my credit card balance every month or not to use one if I couldn’t! She also taught me the important of purchasing without borrowing money if at all possible. For example, they bought their first two cars without financing even though that meant not having a car for the first year that they were married. Also, she taught me that it may not be worth it to price compare if you believe that the prices are going to be so close that you’ll waste more money and time driving around to other stores. If you find a good deal, take it and use your extra time towards saving money another way!

    • My parents taught me that last lesson by accident.

      On a trip to California to visit my brother, they ran out of gas. Twice. Why? They got hung up looking for the absolute lowest price on gas :)

      • Ryan says:

        Yea I think people put too much effort in searching for lowest gas prices. Most places will only vary between $0.05-$0.10 per gallon. Is it really worth the hassle to save that extra dollar?

  8. Shirley says:

    Like Glenn’s, my mother taught me to consider unit per pound rather than per item pricing.
    While not a penny-pincher (especially when it came to us kids) she was definitely thrifty and a wise shopper.

    “The best deal for the overall situation” is the one that we all learned and kept:
    My folks gave us a vote on whether to put in a swimming pool or a game room (guess which one won in sunny Calif!) and she fed many a wet teen at our house in order to make it a ‘great place to be’ and keep an eye on what we were doing. That lesson, although rather costly, was invaluable and I’m quite sure it prevented a lot of other costly situations.

  9. saladdin says:

    The biggest money saver I learned was that not everyone is supposed to have kids. My mother is worthless. We don’t speak and never will. But I did learn that children are expensive and if you can’t afford them don’t have them.

    saladdin

    • Jim says:

      This is very true and it’s a good life lesson as well, you should do what’s right for you, not what society dictates.

  10. Kathy says:

    Only buy what you value–and think of that broadly. http://bit.ly/bOOw2r
    If you value time with the people you love more than stuff, buy less stuff to have more time.

  11. Matt Bell says:

    Shortly before my mom died, she surprised me with the advice to remember to spend some money just for fun. She and my dad were always very conservative with money. I don’t know for sure, but maybe she regretted not spending more just to have fun.

  12. fairydust says:

    Mom taught me fabulous cooking skills, a lot about good nutrition, and all about couponing :)

  13. My other taught me how to be sensible. I am pretty frugal and sensible when it comes to my spending habits now, many thanks to her.

  14. Fred says:

    My mom taught me to be generous. She always believed “it is more blessed to give.” She constantly gave a lot of money to charities and needy folks, and frequently employed people at good wages even though they struggled to perform (effort was more important than outcome for her).

    This impressed me because when we were younger, my parents were poor. We lived in a small brick row home just outside the edge of the city. She stayed home with us while my dad worked long hours, even though it meant no luxuries in our house. She spent everything on her kids and others and almost nothing on herself. She wanted us to have a great childhood, and she was happy to wear hand-me-down and hand-me-over clothes.

    When we got older, my parents came into money when my grandfather died. My mom’s heart didn’t change even though suddenly we had more money than we knew what to do with. She still constantly gave away money and tried to help other folks.

    While sometimes her generosity would drive me bonkers (because I am less sympathetic than she is), she taught me that the money we earn is a tool to make the world a better place, not just to buy toys for ourselves. Our family is now putting that lesson into action ourselves. I hope my kids internalize it.

  15. My mother taught me you don’t get do overs (like the stock market just did.

  16. Rana says:

    My mom taught me to never pay full price for anything. She never bought anything brand new! And I always had two pairs of shoes — black and bone (light tan). She said they’d match everything. Of course when I got my first job, one of the first things I bought was a pair of cute red sandals!

  17. Yana says:

    1) The more you have, the more you stand to lose. Make sure you have the right kinds of insurance, such as auto and homeowners, and be aware of your own legal liabilities.

    2) It is okay to *have* money. You don’t have to spend it.

    3) Debt is self-destructive and does not serve you. My mother never said it, but it was clear that she didn’t buy into the notion of paying for a home over 30 years, living and working to pay off a huge debt. She had her own home built. Two of my aunts tried it the other way, with a mortgage, but both of them bailed out of that early on. One of them amassed a fortune and rented until the day she died.

  18. Sarah in Alaska says:

    Live within your means and carry adequate insurance.

    As I child I had serious health problems. Because my mother opted for a quality health insurance plan rather than a flimsy “accident” plan, I was able to get the surgeries necessary to reduce the effects of my health problems.

    She also made sure that each of my siblings had COBRA coverage in college because our universities didn’t offer a comprehensive student plan.

  19. Michele says:

    My mother tried to teach me many things about money. Use Layaway, pay cash for cars, save till you can afford it. I had none of it, and got myself into a hot financial mess that I am working my way out of. My mother died, 14 years ago, on Mother’s Day. I had purchased a lilac to plant in her yard. All my life every summer she would buy lilac plant or someone would give her starts and she never could get them to grow. She says to me, do you think it will grow? Meaning “why did you waste your money on something that is going to die.” Most lilacs bloom in April. But one year to the day she died that bush bloomed for the first time. Every year since, it blooms mother’s day weekend.

    • Shirley says:

      I think maybe our moms are still watching over us.
      The only houseplant that I have ever been able to keep alive (and looking like it’s supposed to) is the one that my aunt sent to my mother when my dad died. Four years later and it still looks good!

  20. jmarie says:

    My mom was the one that taught me to be compassionate and to give to others (baking,cards, my time etc). My dad was the one who taught me the financial stuff from I think the moment I was born. My mom died when I was 11 yrs old and he expected to be celebrated on both mother’s day and father’s day since he had to be both… I will share his wisdom for mother’s day:

    Pay yourself 1st. 10 % off any money you get goes to savings. This included birthday money, tooth fairy money, allowance etc. I remember being 5 and realizing 10% of $8 was .80 cents and not the $1 my dad just took from me.

    Always pay credit card balance off every month.

    Gave me a small stock portfolio at 14 where I picked stocks in companies I used, talked to his broker and couldn’t go out on Fri nights until after Wall Street Week watching with him.

    Learn how to paint, change your own tire/oil, and other tasks so you don’t pay others for things you can do yourself.

  21. eric says:

    Definitely frugality. Not so much through words but through her actions. She’s like a walking price book! :)

    That and probably the importance of saving money for later.

  22. zapeta says:

    For the most part my parents were terrible with money. The one thing that taught me is that I didn’t want to be making payments on stuff I bought forever. I rarely buy anything I can’t pay off immediately. So I guess my parents showed me the importance of everything that they didn’t do!

  23. My grandmother taught my mom to be frugal, and both taught me how to be frugal (with my mom by example, and with my grandmother by her telling stories of the “Great Depression”.


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