by Roberta Beach Jacobson
I owe my keen business sense to my mother's teachings about financial management. As many people who lived through the Great Depression, Mom has become cautious when it comes to parting with money. "Once your money is spent, it's gone forever," she is fond of saying.
* * *
It's not surprising Mom became a cents-off coupon clipper (and this hasn't changed, even though she is now 83). To save a dime on a can of mushrooms or a quarter on a box of cereal is sheer heaven for her. She's proud of every penny saved. For people who've survived the Great Depression, saving money signifies security.
She enjoyed a full-time career for the first 13 years of her marriage, working as a newspaper reporter in a male-dominated field. Pre-WWII, being a married career woman was highly unusual.
Once I was born, Mom reverted to her full-time housewife-mother role. She was 40 years old when I came along and as I weighed under three pounds, my parents were told by the doctors not to expect me to survive. Consequently they never picked out a name for me. Mom just filled out my birth certificate using her name. Obviously I pulled through and she and I carry the identical name!
When I set up sidewalk lemonade stands on hot summer Ohio days in the 1950s, Mom calculated in advance how much "her" sugar, lemonade mix and water cost and I had to pay her for my so-called business expenses from my daily intake, "You can't know how much you've earned until you know how much you've spent in the process. Only then can you know what your profits truly are," she told me.
I think on my block we sold lemonade for something like three cents a glass back then, so maybe we kids took in about 15 cents each for a good day's work. But I always handed over a portion, a few pennies, to Mom to cover my operating expenses. Of course I griped about having to give up my money, but she told me I'd understand the value of the lesson when I grew up.
She was right!
My mother's wisdom has influenced me in a great way. I've never been a risk-taker with money and I think twice before signing any credit contract. I keep up on current interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. I shop around for bargains and sell unwanted items (even gifts!) rather than having them clutter up the closets.
Let's face it, as a freelance writer who has resided abroad for over two decades, it's a lucky thing Mom taught me how to handle my finances in a responsible way. I've watched many of my contemporaries overseas fail in the writing business - not because of lack of writing talent, but because of shaky money management practices.
It turns out my mother gave me a lot more than just her name!
* * *
Return to Frugal Parenting
Frugal Living Index
Copyright © 2001 by Roberta Beach Jacobson. All rights reserved.