As part of our Coupons.com $5,000 scholarship, we recently polled 15,000 students for their best overall savings tips. In almost all of their responses, one thing stood out: Some of the best savings tips they received were from Mom.
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No one gives advice quite like Mom — especially when it comes to managing money. From back-to-school shopping on a budget to feeding a small army on a shoestring, Mom’s expert advice at juggling household funds is downright inspirational. In case you’re in need of a little inspiration and some motherly advice on minding your money, check out some gems of wisdom from our readers’ mothers to your wallet.
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You’ll find advice from Mom on building your savings, budgeting, couponing, earning money, and making those important decisions about buying what you need — rather than spending too much on what you want.
Mom’s Advice for Budgeting
Balancing what you make versus what you spend — and what you save — is what budgeting is all about. Bills need to be paid and necessities need to be purchased, but you should still be able to save a little and spend a little to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Early on, many of our students polled mentioned their mothers’ advice for budgeting and keeping finances on-track:
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Play with percentages. “One tip that has helped me save money is to budget. My mom owns her own business so it helps having her around to give me tips. She showed me percentages of how I should split up my money. I have a binder where I put 50% of my paycheck towards rent, 15% towards groceries, 10% towards gas, 10% towards utilities, 10% towards extra, and 5% towards extra school stuff. This has really helped me with managing my money and at first it didn’t make sense but now that I actually have money for everything it makes sense at the end of each month.”
Balance your checkbook old-school style! “One tip that helps me save money is to write down my expenses. My mom has always taught me to be smart with money. I write down what I am spending my money on and try to portion out my money at the beginning of every month to make sure I have enough to pay for rent and other such things. I also balance my checkbook old school style. There are many sites and apps that help you do this, but I believe that if I do it manually, I am really taking charge of my money and seeing where my money goes.”
The Art of Shopping & Couponing: Mom’s a Master!
Shopping for household essentials or the occasional “treat yourself” purchase are inevitable. Mom’s got some advice on how to manage both and save money in the process.
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Use coupons whenever you can. “My mom has drilled the art of grocery shopping using coupons in my head. One tip that helps me save money is previewing coupon sites and combining sales with weekly coupons. I use sites like Coupons.com and Coupon Mom to find the best weekly deals. This helps cut our grocery bills in half when we shop!”
Buying quality items may save you money in the long run. “One tip that my mom gave me is that ‘cheap things end up being more expensive,’ meaning I should invest in products that will last me as opposed to buying the cheapest option, which could break quickly. I need a new laptop, however, I will continue to save money until I can buy a decently priced one because if I get a cheaper one, it might not last me, causing me to have to buy another one soon after.”
Embrace “Reverse Season Shopping.” “My favorite money-saving tip is from my mom. She always tells me to buy winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter. This reverse season shopping has saved me so much money because winter clothes are always on sale in the summer and vice versa. I love shopping for clothes, so this tip really saved me from spending a lot of money on clothes that can be bought at a cheaper price.”
Go generic! “One tip that has really helped me save money now that I’m on my own is to buy generic brands whenever possible. My mom has been shopping and supplying for the house my whole life, and she has always preached about buying generic products. They’re the same products, but they cost so much less. I know I’ve told all of my roommates to buy generic whenever we go shopping. We don’t need to buy brand name to get the same quality of product! The money we save really adds up!”
Advice from Mom on Growing Your Savings
Earning money is a wonderful thing. But saving those earnings so they can give you comfort and padding is an even better thing. Here are some tips from readers — and their mothers — on saving your earnings and growing it over time.
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Some of it belongs to the bank. “One thing that helps me save money is to decide beforehand what percentage of my money will be dedicated to certain things. This way, I am less tempted to spend all my money because I know that a certain percent of it already belongs to my bank account. One of the most important things is that I can’t take any money out of my bank account until college. I often argued with my mom because I thought it was unfair, but now that I am older I am glad she stuck with the policy.”
Save more than you spend. “When I was babysitting and earned ($100) a week, my mom told me to put 80% into my savings account while only keeping 20%. I will continue to do that when I get a real job to continue saving money. Also, she explained that if I got used to living off of less than 50% of my income, I would have a good retirement while having cushion money if anything were to happen where I needed large sums of money. I will always use this advice to have a good quality of life.”
Use cash when possible. “When I was in high school my mom put me through a financial course from Dave Ramsey. His advice has helped me as a young adult make wiser financial decisions. He bases his entire program on his “Seven Baby Steps”: Save $1,000, pay off debt, 3-6 month fund, invest 15%, college, pay off home, and give. Along with this, he highly encourages paying for needed items with money set aside in an envelope specifically for each category. I do not practice his envelope system but I do try my best to use cash. In addition, developing a budget helps me to visually see where my money is going and how much I really can be saving each month.”
Want vs. Need: Advice from Mom on Prioritizing Purchases
While it’s hard to pass up a good deal, sometimes you need to step back and ask yourself whether you really need to make that purchase. Before you make that impulse splurge, here are a few tips from Mom to help you ward off buyer’s remorse:
Research your purchases. “One saving tip that has stayed with me through my life is to never buy in the moment. This essentially means to not buy on first impression or on impulse. If I see something I think I need to purchase, I first think if it a “need” or a “want.” I try not to buy any “wants” because that leads to careless spending. I make sure to research what I am buying to see if there are any better deals or coupons that could save money on my purchase.”
Focus on what matters most to you. “As a runner, I know my fair share of quotes. However, my favorite quote by far relates not only to running, but to many aspects of life, including saving money. The quote is, “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want in the moment.” I come from a large family of ten with a father who worked full time just to make ends meet. By age 14, I had a job and paid for my own clothes, schooling, and sports. At a tender age, I realized the value saving money for future use. If I spent all my paycheck on the latest gadget, I could never have enough to pay for what really mattered to me, like my sports. The hardest part comes from staying focused on what I really want and not what seems necessary in the moment, especially when media screams otherwise. When that new coat calls to me from the shop window, I walk right on by because my future happiness means so much more to me than pleasure in that small moment.
Take a second look. “Think before you spend. My mom and I have a system when it comes to shopping. We pick out things we like, and before we actually buy anything, we go back through everything we picked out and decide whether we really like it, will wear/use it, or if we really need it.”
Wait a few hours or a few days. “I think people lose the most money when they impulse-buy things. A long time ago, my mom told me that I should wait a few hours or even a few days before making larger purchases. I do this with clothes, electronics, and more. Because I wait and think about my decisions, I end up buying half as much.”
Enjoying Your Money Wisely
Everyone’s entitled to have some fun. However, it’s important to remember that treating yourself to small items or going out with your friends should be just that: A treat — and not an everyday thing that will deplete your cash reserves. Our readers shared some of Mom’s advice for having fun on the cheap:
The “Under $10 Rule.” “My mom told me before I received a debit card that the rule was ‘nothing under $10.’ If I saw something I wanted under $10 and only had my card, then I did not need it. The more comfortable you feel making small purchases with a debit card, the more frequently you end up doing so. Smaller purchases add up quicker than bigger purchases. Take out $10-20 every week and once you run out, you know that you are done making small, unnecessary purchases that week.”
Find affordable alternatives. “Sure, as a kid with a degree and a ‘real job’ I want to be able to buy mom and dad that fancy television set they have always wanted, or that new fancy juicer, or tires for the old Mustang — but I have found that it really is the thought that counts. So, I use coupons to try and find affordable alternatives for not only things for myself, but for gifts for my friends and family, as well. I try not to eat out, and use credit card and member points wisely in order to maximize the amount of money I do have to spend.”
Find fun things to do for free. “One tip that my mom told me before going to college is to initiate plans with people that I am willing to pay for before they can suggest something expensive. Everyone in college is in a different financial situation: Some people are here on scholarship, some are barely scraping by. So, if I want to save as much money as possible while still enjoying my college experience, I invite my friends to go out and have fun doing things that are cheap or even free. It is amazing what a bunch of college students can come up with when they are on a budget. We have found out that sometimes the most fun things in life really are free.”
This Mother’s Day, remember all the good advice Mom gave you and let her know how much you appreciate her and all she’s done for you through the years!