#MothersDay: 8 Financial lessons that my single mother taught me

by - May 14, 2017

Mother, the encompassing word that explains love, selflessness, divinity and God.

And today, it's Mother's Day.

My mother did her best to be a wonderful parent to me. She really worked hard to provide a stable foundation for my life and future. She taught me many invaluable lessons about work,  relationships, and life.

As is the case with most people of her generation, her life was a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs. But, throughout all of this, she would soldier on.

Regarding money management, my mother was a mix bag of good and bad. While she was frugal, well actually she was kind of forced into it when my dad left, I learned very valuable lessons about money.

And since we are celebrating Mother's Day today, I thought I should share the financial lessons she taught me directly and indirectly.

Work is good, it gives provides 
My mom started her professional career at a time when the majority of women were stay-at-home moms. Throughout her professional life, my mom was an incredibly hard worker with very high standards. And I never once saw her calling in because she was "sick". And if she was really sick, she worked overtime and came home late. She set an amazing example as far as work ethic goes, and I’m grateful for it because I became like her. I don't skip work because I'm sick. I've only done that when I'm going for another job interview... 😎

Money gives you the freedom to choose
My mother came from that background where a man is in charge of everything. So when my dad left, she had to pick herself up for our sake and get a job. She worked at a factory and earned her own money! I was still a baby when all this happened. Girl, we ate whatever she wanted to eat. If she wanted Chicken Licken, then Chicken Licken it is. If she wanted to eat samp, then samp it is. It's only when I grew older that I started complaining about her choices. But the clothes I wore and the food I ate, was all her choices for me.

Live within your means
Like most mothers, my mother was a pro at making the most out of the little we had. She has also always been very creative when it comes to problem-solving. She ran our household in a way that it wouldn’t fall apart. I remember when we went through a period of eating pap and cabbage. My mother used to cook it in all it's shade and it was delicious. From pap, cabbage with tomato, to fried until it's brown cabbage to cabbage mixed with bones, my mother made it all. She took that one simple vegetable and made a meal out of it, literally!
And because she worked as a tailor, we never went shopping. Sure I wanted to dress in style, but we made do with what we had  The clothes I wore were clothes that people never came back to collect from her company. My mother would take them and alter them to fit me. The only brand new clothes I got was school uniforms.

Cash is King
My mom had an aversion to debt. I don't remember us having credit cards or paying installments. The only installments we had were municipal rates. She always made sure that she paid for everything in full.

Always have a budget
My mother had what I call a 'mental' budget. How do I know this? Because we bought the same grocery and paid the same bills every month. We never went overboard accept when she was generous. I always had my 'treat' every Friday. It was usually a chocolate cake or fruits which I got to enjoy alone.

Save, save, save.
My mother had cash stashed away for emergencies. It only came out when there is a really important situation like my school books and uniform. She was also really committed to putting a portion of her paycheck away every month to cover short-term and long-term expenses. And like many of our township mothers, she had food stamps which she used for the enormous grocery we got in December and she is part of a few burial societies.

Look for quality not name brands
My mom hardly ever bought name brands. She is the epitome of frugal. Growing up, she was never motivated by acquiring stuff or having all the newest, finest things in life. She focused on making sure that we got everything that we needed for the lowest price possible and making it last as long as possible. The only name brand product that we owned was a Panasonic TV which went out in flames because according to my mother we were abusing it.  Everything was either refurbished or reworked.

Be generous and be quick to help others
Oh my goodness, my mother is the most generous person I know! She is generous with her time, resources and money. I can even venture out to say that she is the Queen of Generosity. I don't know how many times people were always knocking on our door asking for money, food, etc. In fact, when she was on leave, we used to have braais and the house was always full. And we used to stay with people all the time. They were not necessarily family but they were there with us.
If there was a need in the community, my was there, be it funeral or just service.  She set a healthy example for me from the very beginning that life is not all about getting only… it’s also about giving. Because of my mom I too am a giver.

I am grateful for her selflessness, hard work, sacrifice and her thrifty ways that kept us well fed, clothed and healthy.

What financial lessons have you learned from your parents? Did you follow in their footsteps, or learn what NOT to do from them? Have you taught them any lessons?

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