10 money lessons from mom

Think mom didn't teach you anything about money? Maybe you simply weren't paying attention.

Improve your money skills
Just in time for Mother's Day (don't-forget-to-call/visit/send-flowers), here are 10 choice "momisms" you might remember, and the ways her advice can improve your money skills:

1.  "Have a place for everything, and everything in its place." Ever tried to balance your checkbook or pay the bills when you can't lay your hands on one all-important piece of paper? And when are those bills due, anyway?

Organization is "very important in your financial life," says Douglas Borkowski, director of the Financial Counseling Clinic at Iowa State University. In his family growing up, "mom and grandma were the ones who kept things organized," he says.

2. "Don't be late." Mom was probably talking about school, but the rule applies to money, too. "You'd better pay your bills on time," says Les Kotzer, attorney and co-author of "The Family War: Winning the Inheritance Battle." Otherwise, you face increased interest rates, late fees and all kinds of financial penalties, including a damaged credit rating.

3. "You can do anything if you set your mind to it." It's a fact: Set a goal and write it down and you're much more likely to attain it. (Think of it as jotting down directions to a place you've never visited.) It works the same for financial goals.

When it comes to income, debts and savings, "you have to know how the pieces fit," says Borkowski.

4. "Know your own value." Financial adviser Kathleen Miller gave her daughter the same advice she gives her clients: Make a net worth statement every year.

On one sheet of paper, tally what comes in and what goes out. Include assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe).

It's a great way to take a yearly snapshot of your financial life, says Miller, head of Kirkland, Wash.-based Miller Advisors, a fee-only financial planning firm. And it doesn't require any special math know-how.

Save the sheets from year to year and you have a "financial diary," which is "a real good way to have a very, very quick review," she says.

5. "Do your homework!" Whether you're looking for the best interest rate for your savings account or trying to find out if that investment tip is everything it's cracked up to be, doing your homework is still important.

It also puts you in control of your finances, says Kotzer. By doing your own research and getting educated on topics that concern you financially, "you're not always dependent on what others are telling you," he says.

6. "Practice, practice, practice." Want to stay home with the kids? Great move. But keep your skills sharp, just in case. "Over 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce," says Miller, author of "Fair Share Divorce for Women."

"Maintain your skill levels and connections because it's so hard if you have to get back in," she says.


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