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Personal finance tips for moms

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As celebration preparations are underway for Mother’s day, it is important to take some time to assess your personal financial knowledge as it is the key to establishing (or achieving) a secure future for your family – and helps ensure that you will have the means to celebrate many Mother’s Days to come. Here’s what moms should keep in mind when it comes to personal finance:

family Q: You’re a mom and a financial advisor. What’s the best money advice you’d give your kids now (while they’re young) and also when they’re raising their own families?

  • There are two things we try to instill in our children that I hope they will carry on to their own families some day: the need to work and the need to save. They need to learn that things are not free and that with work can come rewards.  I began working at the age of 12 in my church’s nursery because I wanted my own spending money for various things such as shoes and designer jeans. As for saving, it all starts with paying an allowance for doing specific things and a piggy bank to save one-third. .

Q: I’m clueless about personal finance. Where do I even start to get educated?

  • There are numerous sources online. There are also free podcasts and free classes given at Community Colleges and various investment firms.  You can find simple budgeting programs online; use them and stick to them. Too many times I have helped people in my practice do a budget only to watch them ignore it after the first month.

 Q: I tend to overspend on my kids. How do I balance the ever-present “nows” with saving for the future?

  • We don’t only overspend on our kids, we overspend – period.  I know this may seem simple but I always ask “is this a need or a want?”  Investing in needs such as books or braces is essential to your child’s future. However, upgrading your child’s smart phone to the newest generation when the current model is functioning is a want that isn’t necessary. Start early teaching your children the difference between wants and needs.  Help them understand priorities beginning at a very young age.

 Q: Should I share the same checking and savings accounts with my spouse? 

  • That is a tough one.  Every couple is different. To me, successful relationships are about communication and trust. If you communicate what the budget is, what you want to spend on non-essential items and agree before you write the check, why not?  However if one party doesn’t communicate or has a habit of spending money earmarked for necessities, then the responsible party should have the checking and savings.  My husband and I share the same checking and savings account; it works very well for us. 

Q: Everyone keeps telling me to save for college but I’m having anxiety about my lack of retirement. What should I focus on?

  • The simple but perhaps not practical answer is both. If you can put money in a 529 plan and still fund your IRAs or 401ks to the max, that’s great. If not, then compromise and fund each a bit. I suggest meeting with a financial planner or go online and do a budget.  See what you can afford and, just as importantly, what you will need to maintain your lifestyle in retirement.  I am fairly confident that Social Security will not pay the bills when I retire, nor was it meant to.  I am also fairly sure that the cost of education is not going down. So save for both.  To fund education, there are scholarships and loans available.  There are even some provisions to borrow against your retirement to fund them.  Please check with your tax advisor to see if this applies to you.  One suggestion we give our clients is instead of spending X amount of dollars on toys or clothes for birthdays and holidays, spend half that and put the remaining balance in a savings account set aside for education.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see moms make in regards to their personal finances?

  • Three things: they don’t budget, they don’t follow the budget if they make one and they forget about the difference between needs and wants. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world.  Raising children and instilling them with your values is tough. It’s hard enough to get one child to soccer practice, one to dance, pick up the dry cleaning and plan supper AFTER working for eight hours. But if you can take care of your finances, there will be less stress in the family and you will be setting an example that will guide your children down the right path as they get older.

amberAmber Stribling is a Financial Advisor with the Pelican Bay Group of Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver.  She can be reached at 303 572-4090 or

The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC, or its affiliates. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.


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