By Marcia Mantell, RMA
Women’s History month is a time to recognize women who have pushed the next generation of women forward. It’s also an opportune time to thank women in our own lives who made a difference in our journey. Those women, achieving things great and small, have paved the way for each of us to go further. To gain more power. To get closer to equality. And, now it’s our turn. It’s our obligation to share what we’ve learned with our own daughters.
But are we doing just that?
Boomer Moms Share Financial Advice with their Daughters
Boomer women are the first generation to own and control financial accounts. They’ve built careers and 401(k) balances. Somehow, they’ve muddled through the financial quagmire to put food on the table, send kids to college and get ready to support themselves in retirement.
In celebration of Women’s History month, I asked boomer mothers if and how they are talking to their daughters about money. (And, with their sons, as a few mothers noted in their comments.)
Turns out, moms have a lot to say to their daughters. Here are 10 financial “pearls of wisdom” mothers are sharing with their daughters today.
1. Never Abdicate on Your Money
They want the girls to understand how they cannot be left without sufficient resources through life.
- “ALWAYS make sure you can support yourself and your children alone — no matter what!“
- “Never abdicate your financial responsibilities and let someone else make your decisions for you.”
- “If things are rocky (marriage, long-term relationship), make sure you've stashed some cash so you have a safety net in the event things go south.”
- “While you can gain guidance from an advisor, you must still be in control and be the manager of your money.”
2. Get an Early Start on “Adulting” Skills
One mom and dad combo has been showing and telling “adulting” skills with their daughter and son for many years.
- In the off-to-college era, “The intention was for each to have the opportunity and responsibility to ‘manage’ their own budget for their living expenses not covered by room/board.” It was a bit of trial and error. Some parental guidance was all they needed to make good decisions.
- To learn about taxes, the kids collected their tax information from high school jobs and watched their parents complete the tax filing process. A few years later, they filled out their own taxes, guided by mom and dad.
“Today, both are living independently and completing tax filings on their own. On occasion, they discover some good tidbits and offer advice to us!”
3. Save Early for Retirement
There is a lot of great advice from moms to daughters about saving for retirement. Here’s what moms are saying loud and clear:
- “Never, ever take money out of your retirement savings account! Not for a trip to Europe or Disney. Not to purchase a house or a car. Let it grow!!”
- “Saving any amount for retirement at a young age will pay big dividends (literally) in the future due to decades of compound growth.”
- “First put savings into the 401(k) up to the level that the company matches. Any matching is like free money!”
- “Save as much as possible in your retirement fund before you have a mortgage and kids.”
4. Learn to Invest, Even if You’re Not Interested
While certainly critical to save, it’s equally important to become an investor. Moms advise their daughters in ways to get started:
- “Learn about investing even if it’s not your 'thing.' You have to know the basics.”
- “The easiest way to get started is to select a mutual fund that is managed for the year you plan to retire. That way the money manager does all the work for you. All you have to do is pick the fund and continue to invest.”
5. Man-up, Ladies!
Some moms dealt with politics and put-downs in the corporate world. But that gave them a front-row seat to how men operate and get more. This advice is rarely shared but critically important for our daughters’ successes.
- “For women in business who become dissatisfied with their work, I say act like a guy and not a woman.” Significantly more often than men, women get fed up and leave their jobs without having a new one lined up. This causes financial chaos that can take decades to repair.
- “Men get more because they ask for more.... Put on your big girl pants and ask for what you want and deserve.”
6. Budget, Budget, Budget
No one beats a mom’s experience running a budget. They’re experts in squeezing every drop from every dollar. And, they’re passing on great advice to their girls:
- “Limit your spending and don’t go wild with purchases.”
- “By setting up a budget, my daughter saw how no more than 30% should be spent for rent — a good rule of thumb.”
- “Think about how long you have to work to afford that Starbucks' venti macchiato. As an AmeriCorps volunteer living on a stipend, it worked out to an hour-plus of work to pay for one of those fancy coffees! Although she still prefers to buy her coffee as a reward/treat, she usually makes it at home and takes it in a travel mug.”
7. Wait to Buy
The concept of waiting to buy gets lost these days in our immediate-gratification world. Moms are advising their girls to wait it out:
- “If you want to make a big purchase, save, and wait for a sale.”
- “Save early for the things you really want. A car, a house, a vacation, or just a safe financial place.”
- “Give it some thought before you buy. Maybe in a day or two, you realize you really don’t want or need it.”
8. Passion Matters in Money… and Life
Only a few decades ago women had to fight hard to get a spot in law school, a seat in medical school, or a job with prestige or power. Boomer women sacrificed much to open more doors for daughters and now offer new advice:
- “Follow your passions and work hard. Joy will follow. Family, friends, faith and community bring happiness, not money. But having financial security sure helps along the way.”
- “Align your values with your job. Work somewhere that doesn't sap your soul.”
- “Bank your bonuses. You need a freedom fund so you can walk out when you want to follow your dreams.”
9. Pay Yourself First
This was the first financial lesson many boomer moms learned. They are not only passing this good advice along, but they are getting very specific:
- “Priority save. Build your safety net of at least 4-months pay first.”
- “Your safety net fund is not a down payment on a house, car, wedding, vacation.”
- “Pay yourself first by putting away 10% of your net income right into a savings account.”
10. Become their Financial Teacher
At some point, our daughters go out in the big world and have to get finances right. No one teaches critical financial skills in schools, so moms step up and step in to teach:
- “Years ago, when negotiating mortgage applications, our 12-year-old daughter exclaimed, “How am I supposed to learn how to do all of this?” We never forgot her exclamation.” With complex financial processes, show your daughters the inside scoop of financial transactions.
- “In explaining how credit scores work and why they are important, my daughters were shocked. The daughter with the Ivy League education said with frustration, “How is it that we never learned any of this important information in college?””
Boomer Moms Offer Advice to All Moms
Talk about money in front of your daughters. Include them in complex financial processes. As one mom noted, “It allows them to ask questions, keep abreast of the financial markets, become courageous, and learn to save.” It’s never too early to start talking money.
During this Women’s History Month, let’s applaud “first generation” boomer moms who are sharing their financial experiences with their daughters. Let’s recognize them for taking on the job of helping younger generations become more financially powerful. It’s our thank you to the women who laid the bricks for us.
And our opportunity to let our daughters know, “You are brilliant... you are beautiful... you are abundantly capable... YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH!”
About the author: Marcia Mantell, RMA®
Marcia Mantell, RMA® is the founder and president of Mantell Retirement Consulting, Inc., a retirement business development, marketing & communications, and education company supporting the financial services industry, advisors, and their clients. She is author of “What’s the Deal with Retirement Planning for Women,” “What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women” and blogs at BoomerRetirementBriefs.com.