From racking up credit card debt on your daughter’s designer clothes to neglecting your retirement fund, financial experts share the top money mistakes moms make. Find out how to take charge of your family finances now so you can build up a nice nest egg for retirement later.
Padding your kids college fund
All the experts agree – the top money mistakes moms make is neglecting your retirement fund for your child’s college fund.
“Many of my clients are parents raising young children, [who] are deeply in debt and have little or no money set aside for retirement,” says self-made millionaire Jen Smith of millionairemommynextdoor.com. “Yet most of these parents contribute regularly to their children’s education fund(s),” she says.
“Take it from me, the financial burden of caring for your elderly parent(s) — ones who failed to save for their own retirement — is much more daunting than paying for your own college tuition. So parents, please take care of YOUR financial future first,” she says. “Then — and only then — contribute towards improving your children’s future. This is not selfish behavior; this is one of the most loving things you can do for your entire family.”
“My husband takes care of our money…”
It is time for women to get involved in paying bills, saving money and investing money — or at the very least sit down with your husband once a month and know your financial situation. Monique Honaman, author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, says that many women have no idea about their personal financial situation, leaving them vulnerable if something should happen to their spouse.
“Should they find themselves going through a divorce, they need to know this information in order to make some wise decisions for the good of their kids. And, it’s not just relevant to divorcing couples,” she says, referring to a woman whose husband died of a heart attack at age 41. “She was absolutely clueless as to their financial situation, life insurance, bills, etc. As a mom, she didn’t need this stress at this time. She needed to be worrying about her kids, not figuring out the finances.”
Quiz – Are you in charge of your finances? >>
Being stingy with allowance
Guess what? You will actually save money by giving your kids an allowance! Experts say that this is the best way to teach kids about money – including saving for that expensive toy they just have to have. “Kids should be paying for their own discretionary items, and I recommend to families that they begin an allowance program,” says Karyn Hodgens, co-founder, Kidnexions Kids’ Personal Finance Educator.
“Parents find that, once an allowance is started, they actually spend LESS on their kids (including doling out the allowance),” she says. “That’s because it stops the ‘I wanna’s’ in its tracks — it allows the kids to decide how badly they really want the item. Saying ‘no’ to kids is hard. But it’s important. It’s our job as parents to raise our kids to be self-reliant. Besides, there’s a lot of money to be saved by doing so.”
Taking less money for a flexible schedule
Asking for a more flexible schedule at work does not necessarily mean you should take less money. Don’t sell yourself short, says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart.
“If you are getting your job done, focus on those accomplishments when you ask for flexibility. Don’t just offer a pay cut when none might be needed,” she says. “And for those ad hoc days where you need to leave early, don’t use your kids as the de facto reason. Say you have an appointment outside the office.”
Having a disorganized house not only affects your home and state of mind, but also your budget. “I’ve seen children outgrow outfits that still have the tags on them, have multiples of the same story book and have to toss out toys that only have part of the pieces,” says Professional Organizer Lea Schneider, Organize Right Now LLC and author of Growing-Up Organized.
Tips for organizing the 5 messiest areas of your home >>
“Organize the clothes by size so that the child really wears them. Only buy clothes when they really need a new size and not just because it is cute. Shop sale racks and stock up for the next size they will grow in to instead of buying full price clothing. Organize toys and books and teach your children how to respect them and tidy them so they last.”
One last tip: Cut those coupons, moms! “I cut and organize my coupons for two hours a week, and I save over $100 a week,” says Aimee Brittain, The Coupon Diva.