Financial lessons my mother taught me
With Mother’s Day this weekend, our thoughts turn to the women who shaped our values and who moulded us into the people we are today. Whether consoling us after a gut-wrenching loss in that pee-wee hockey playoff game or watching proudly as we accepted that hard-earned diploma, mending our scraped knees or working overtime to ensure that we never went without, our moms have always been there.
While this is a decidedly unusual Mother’s Day that many of us will celebrate via video conferencing platforms or (where it’s allowed) socially-distanced backyard barbecues, we’ll be sure to spend time honouring the wisdom they’ve passed along over the years.
All of us here on the Newport team have stories to share about the financial lessons our mothers instilled in us. We’ve compiled some of our team’s favourite lessons from their moms to share with you here. It’s interesting to see that a common theme of frugality emerged – with balance. Perhaps that is one reason why we all take a conservative approach to investment management.
We hope you enjoy these nuggets of wisdom – maybe you heard a few of them from your own mother.
“My mom was born in 1913. She worked in her family knitting mill office and was a great mother to four kids. She lived to 99 years and was with it to the end. She had seen a lot in her life span. Her favourite saying was: ‘If it sounds too good to believe, it probably is.’ It’s a saying that has kept me in good stead over 45 years in this business.”
“My mother said a few things that stick with me: ‘Never pay the full price for anything; there’s no correlation between enjoying life and spending money; and there’s literally no way to tell a person’s wealth from their appearance.’
“My mother could stretch a dollar like no one else I know. This was by necessity because my father was an immigrant to Canada and it took him many years to find his financial footing (starting from zero). My mother would turn down the heat at night, buy off-cuts of meat, make soup out of just about anything leftover, hang the laundry to dry, and ensure that she got multiple errands done in one car trip to save gas. She always encouraged saving for a rainy day. Our lack of resources then ingrained the principles of frugality that I still carry today. I can’t stand to see waste.”
“I remember my mother saying, ‘It’s okay to plan for tomorrow but you still need to live for today!’ – a good reminder that life is about having a healthy balance.”
“My mother told me to: ‘Eat your peas, stop skipping classes, don’t fight with your brother and always wear clean underwear.’ Those aren’t money lessons, but maybe because I had summer and school-term jobs and paid my own way from Grade 9 onwards. One of the very few things I didn’t need to be told!”
“My mom always taught us: ‘Wait for things to go on sale and pay off your mortgage.’ I haven’t had a perfect track record in following her advice, but both have steered me in the right financial direction.”
“My mom has always been a ‘do-it-yourself-er.’ Examples include painting the house, laying a walkway or new wood floors—you name it. I learned this lesson well and with more time at home these days, it’s coming in handy!”
“Don’t spend it unless you have it. Give yourself at least 10 minutes of thought before you do spend it, and you may just talk yourself out of it.”
“There’s a saying my mom always repeated to us over the years: ‘For those to whom much is given, much is required.’ John F. Kennedy said this, but the saying is biblically based. My mom used this quote recently on a FaceTime call with our family during the COVID-19 crisis, reminding my siblings and our significant others not only how fortunate we are, but to not get caught up in our own lives and provide support (where we can) to those in need.”
So, to the moms who are with us and to those who have left us too soon, all of us here on the Newport team want to share our thanks and our gratitude for your love, your laughter, your lessons and your limitless capacity to set us on the right path. We’d be a great deal poorer (in every way) if not for your guidance.
That’s especially true when it comes to the lessons in managing and growing wealth that you taught us all. We’ll be sure to think of you as we manage our own and our clients’ wealth —and we won’t forget to eat our peas, either.
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