In honor of Women’s History month this March we’re going to celebrate women who have made a difference in our everyday lives. Last year at this time I wrote about all the groundbreaking things women throughout history have accomplished with respect to finance and business so this year we’re bringing it closer to home.
The most influential woman in my life was my mom, Mary. Mom was born in Italy in the middle of World War II in a tiny mountain village that the Nazis occupied. Her childhood in Italy was challenging to say the least with economic hardships that were exacerbated by the war.
At the age of 12 she crossed the Atlantic with her parents to begin a new life in the United States. My Mom started school here in 7th grade with no English and still managed to graduate high school on time.
I remember evenings with my Mom at the kitchen table paying bills, balancing the checkbook to the penny, and always feeling like there wasn’t enough. My parents didn’t make much money but had the awareness (and ability) to not use credit cards, live within their means, and save their money. We learned to find the joy of anticipation out of necessity – a timeliness money lesson for sure.
What I learned about money, I learned from Mom. She wasn’t formally educated but she was self taught and incredibly financially savvy. She understood the value of investing and always made the most of what we had. It was a different time for sure, but what’s interesting to me is that when my family didn’t have money for something, we just did without or my parents worked more. My parents didn’t use a credit card except on the rare trip to the mountains and you know it was paid off before the bill was due.
Women of my mom’s generation were mostly the silent money managers in families. They paid the bills, made sure there was enough food on the table regardless of the budget, and kept the family budget running smoothly. They used a layaway program or Christmas Club savings accounts for holidays. These women may or may not have been involved in “bigger” financial decisions and they probably weren’t involved in any discussions with financial planners. My Mom knew the value of discipline and the reward of anticipation, and used these to manage the family budget because there wasn’t another choice.
The most important financial lessons I learned from my Mom are discipline and learning to wait until I could afford things before buying them. They’re almost one in the same but not quite. You can want something and not buy it because you’re disciplined. You can save up for something wonderful, anticipating the day you can buy it, and savor that moment without regret once it arrives. That’s the best part of anticipation. Kinda like that very old (dating myself here) Heinz ketchup commercial.. Anticipation is making me wait.
We’ve all had women in our lives who have influenced us so this March, and hopefully more than this month, give a shout out to your person and thank her for whatever wisdom she shared with you. What women have influenced your money life?