10 Personal Finance Lessons from Mom

Mothers are a critical part of our Willow community—from the ones who raised our community members directly or acted as crucial mother figures, to the ones who are raising tots and young adults of their own. And as this past year has further reminded us, money plays a huge role in motherhood.


That’s why we’ve gathered the best mom-taught personal finance lessons from our Willow team. They all take different forms, come from different types of mother figures, and emphasize different beliefs about money. But there’s no doubt that there’s something special about learning lessons from the female and mother figures in our lives.


Here are the 10 personal finance lessons we've learned from our moms and the ones we're teaching our children.


Farah Hussain, Director of Global Partner Marketing at PayPal and Founding Member of Coaching for Everyone

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

“Even if you marry a millionaire, you need to be financially independent.” 


This stuck with me because mom said it in tears when I told her I wanted to major in Studio Art in college. At the time she didn’t see it as a path to financial freedom. 


That moment has influenced so many of my choices—from the jobs I consider to who I date. The jobs combine my passion with a sufficient level of income, and the relationships focus fully on the person’s character rather than their wealth as I don’t need their money!


Gwen Payne, Junior Developer at Willow

Gwen Payne and mother

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

My mom always stressed the importance of saving over spending and was always careful and organized with her savings. However, the best personal finance lesson I learned from my mom was about spending. She taught me the importance of buying things you need vs. want, and to put the necessities first, 


but she also taught me the value of doing a kind act for myself and spending a little more than I normally would once in a blue moon. This lesson has really helped me with the guilt that can sometimes surround purchases that aren't necessary, as well as motivating me to keep a budget and keep track of my finances so I know when is an appropriate time.


Why it’s important for women to learn finance lessons from other women:

Learning about finances from other women is so important and empowering. I have experienced being looked down upon and getting condescending advice in other areas of my life, and that is something that doesn’t happen with a woman teaching me. Women understand what it means to be a woman. There is no hassle of explaining the extra obstacles we face and it always feels like a judgement-free zone.


Dora Present Lewin, Senior Client Strategist at BNY Mellon

Dora and her son at graduation

The personal finance lesson I’ve taught to my children: 

Work hard at what you love, and save 30% of what you earn! As a single mom, I’m proud to have paid for my son’s education at Dartmouth and Harvard Law.


Natalie Taylor, Senior Content Manager at Willow

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

High price tags don’t always give you a better product or make you happier. 


My mom is a skeptic. Whether she’s haggling with a street vendor, or scoffing at luxury brands, she’s often on high alert of how you could get taken advantage of. Growing up, this was often annoying or downright embarrassing. 


But despite the awkward encounters I might endure while shopping with her, I learned an incredibly formative lesson that shaped the way I still view many of my purchases: Choose practicality and durability over status.


It’s helped me remain grounded in what’s most important in life (i.e., integrity and hard work—not owning flashy brand names), and to this day, I’m mindful of buying things that will last. (I still drive my 2003 Toyota Corolla I’ve had since high school, and it’s saved me SO much money! Thanks, mom.)


Jennifer Scheffer, Willow Financial Life Coach

The best personal finance lesson my grandmother taught me:

Always have your own money that no one else knows about just in case. I have always taken a little from every paycheck, no matter how small, and diverted it before I see it. I don’t miss it and I am forced to save without affecting my lifestyle.


The personal finance lesson I’ve taught my children: 

Don’t be financially dependent on anyone else. Know what it means to invest in something, and research the investment. You can’t be a passionate investor if you don’t like the product, so invest in things you like or like to do—that way they will pay more attention to its performance and to the process.


Why it’s important for women to learn finance lessons from other women:

Men think differently. Women have greater responsibilities to more people overall and wear many more hats. More times than not, the woman is the one working multiple jobs (mom, career person, wife/girlfriend, teacher, counselor, taxi driver, chef, etc.) so women just get other women.


Sarina Sherwin, Head of Marketing at Willow

Sarina Sherwin and mom

Sarina and her mom

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

My mother, Chintana, embraces life’s twists and turns with stoicism, fortifying the notion that you shouldn’t rely on other people, especially when it comes to money matters. 


The best piece of financial advice my mom gave me was to stay connected and integrated with your profession, a lesson she learned from her own mother who was widowed at 28 years old. She reminded me that remaining relevant professionally, no matter where I was in my career, would keep my options open. Throughout my career, I have kept this advice top of mind during absences from the workplace, whether voluntary like maternity leave or involuntary like a layoff, and it has allowed me to navigate career transitions with increased confidence.


Gretchen Gunlocke Fenton, Fashion Editor and Consultant & Willow Expert

Gretchen Gunlocke Fenton and mom

Gretchen, her mom, and sister

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

My mother always taught me to count on myself and educate myself about finances—don't rely on anyone else. I can still picture her sitting at her desk in our library writing checks to pay the bills; she made sure she was aware of the family finances. (I still like using checks. It reminds me of when I was little watching her.)


Jackie Champoux, Content Marketing Intern at Willow

Jackie Champoux and mom

Jackie (right) and her mom

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

My mother has always worked one or two jobs in order for my family to have the things we have. This made me realize that I need to work hard and save more than I spend. My mother has always spent within her means and inspired me with the belief that a dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned.


Why it’s important for women to learn finance lessons from other women:

Our society still has a discrepancy between the pay of men and women. Learning about money management from successful women can help us realize our value even further.


Sheila Walsh, GM of Financial Coaching at Willow

Sheila Walsh and mom

Sheila and her mom

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

Within our family, my mom is known for her grace and hospitality. Not only did she teach me to always be able to support myself financially (and not ever be in the position of needing to rely on someone else for money), she reminded me that I can share my journey with someone else and still preserve my own identity. This advice inspired me to not only care for my own financial well-being, but also to support other women to have control of their money matters. 


Why it’s important for women to learn finance lessons from other women:

For me, this quote by Brené Brown sums it up well: “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else's survival guide.”


Lacy Garcia, Founder & CEO at Willow

Lacy Garcia mother

Lacy (right), her son, and mother

The best personal finance lesson my mom taught me:

Never give up your career, and have something for yourself that can help you have both fulfillment and financial independence.


The personal finance lesson I’ve taught to my children: 

The value of a dollar (how much things actually cost) and how important it is to start saving and investing early.


Why it’s important for women to learn finance lessons from other women:

There are proven physical, mental and emotional health benefits to women supporting other women. Female friendships can help to reduce stress and loneliness and increase our lifespans. The benefits of sharing your pain and learnings can help you to heal and grow. The same benefits extend to our financial health and well being. 


When we share our financial lessons and knowledge we not only help ourselves, but we can also help to enhance the financial health of another woman and her family, creating a positive ripple effect for generations.

Take the First Step Today!

Join Willow for free and receive a complimentary 30 minute call with a Willow Certified Financial Coach.