I never realized how much my mother has done for me until I became a mother. Mothers give so much of themselves for the well-being of their children. They’re truly incredible, and my mother is no exception.
I am the youngest of ten children; we grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Idaho. I remember my parents scrimping and saving each month to pay the bills. It was a hard life with experiential financial lessons. And my parents worked from sunup to sundown to keep us afloat.
My dad was so busy working on the farm that he didn’t have time to worry about paying the bills. So that’s where my mom stepped in. I remember seeing her working away on her excel spreadsheet. She’d type in the numbers and write out the checks. Every month, my mom made sure all of the accounts were taken care of, and our financial needs were met.
Financial lessons I’ve learned from my mom
While I don’t recall her sitting down and explaining finances to me, I’ve watched her enough throughout the years to learn a few important financial lessons.
1. Pay your tithing first
Before my mom paid the bills, she always paid tithing first. She knew that her family needed all of the blessings they could get. At one point, my parents had three children on missions at the same time. Talk about a financial burden! With six children still at home, my parents worked as hard as they could to pay for these missions.
And they paid their tithing.
There were times my parents weren’t sure they could pay their bills, tithing, and the mission costs. Miraculously, those were also the times when ward or family members offered to assist my parents with the mission costs. My mom knew that these blessings came from an honest tithing and generous fast offerings.
Growing up in this faith-centered home, I understand the importance of paying tithing and fast offerings. I can’t afford not to pay my tithing and risk losing those blessings from Heavenly Father.
2. Create a budget
When my mom took over the finances, she created an excel sheet and put her bills in order of necessity. The bills that had to be paid first went at the top, and the bills with less priority went at the bottom. Then she’d pay each bill and put any extra that was left over towards the bill with the highest interest — this is known as the debt stacking or debt avalanche method.
My mother knew how important it was to pay her bills each month. And I saw how diligent she was in making each payment. She taught me to be responsible and ensure my bills are paid first before I spend money on things I want.
3. When money is tight, get creative
There were times when I’d look in our cupboards, and I couldn’t find anything to eat. Then my mom would whip up a delicious casserole for dinner. She had a knack for finding a use for everything. She was very talented at making something out of nothing.
I remember working in our huge garden. My mom taught us how to plant, water, and harvest this garden. Then she’d can or bottle the food and store it in her food storage. In the fall, we’d go out to the potato fields after they’d been harvested and pick up the potatoes that fell out of the truck. And finally, living on a dairy farm, we always had plenty of milk and beef.
My mom was very resourceful. She always made the most of her circumstances. There are times when I use up my grocery budget before the end of the month. When this happens, I often go to my pantry and think, “What would mom make if she were here?” My mom taught me to think outside the box and find ways to make ends meet.
4. Teach your children
When I was six years old, I got my first job. I was in charge of feeding the baby calves. I didn’t actually get paid for my labors though. Eventually, my dad gave me a calf to sell at the cattle auction. But I received a lot more than money from my work on the farm.
My parents taught their children that the farm was a family business. They taught us that we each needed to do our part to keep the farm running. In doing so, my parents taught me responsibility and hard work. Teaching your kids financial lessons is one of the best things you can do for their future.
5. Education is important
My parents instilled in us the importance of education. My mom has an associate’s degree, and my dad has the equivalent credits of an associate’s degree. They knew their options were limited career-wise. They didn’t want that limitation for their children.
My parents encouraged us to gain a college education and build successful careers. They wanted their children to have better lives than they felt they could give us.
Nine out of their 10 children have bachelor’s degrees. Some have gone on to earn master’s degrees as well. And now a few of my parent’s grandchildren are getting ready to head off to college. I plan on teaching my children to value their education as much as their grandparents do.
Learn from your mothers
My mother is sweet. She is kind. And anyone who meets who her can’t help but love her. I have looked up to her all of my life. And I hope she knows how much I love her. My mother has been teaching me important lessons throughout my entire life. And most importantly: she’s helped shaped me into the mother I am today.
“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln