Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
When it comes to money and managing it, many people initially learn how to do so from their parents, whether it's overtly or through osmosis. Though you may already have learned money tips from your parents, there's no harm in learning more, right, because money management skills are timeless.
DyMynd, a boutique financial empowerment firm for women, runs a program called "Smart Women Rock Money" on college campuses. Carolyn Leonard, Founder & CEO of DyMynd, said that at a recent event, one of the questions asked was, "When did your relationship with money begin?" Millennial women responded as follows:
- 57 percent said between 6 and 10 years old
- 19 percent said between 11 and 14 years old
- 17 percent said between 15 and 18 years old
- 7 percent said between 19 and 24 years old
In addition, Leonard says, many of the women talked about having allowances that they managed, paper routes, lemonade stands, and babysitting money. "The concept of money and saving was introduced while these Millennials were young," she tells Bustle.
When I was growing up, I was raised to "play the game." My mom had just gotten divorced for the second time and had to go on food stamps, so she encouraged me to try not to spend money. With "playing the game," I'd "win" if I saved more money than I'd spend. Sure, I could earn $12 in allowance and buy a new name-brand Barbie doll. Or, I could buy a generic one for $3 and save the rest of the money for something down the line. It's funny how lessons you learn as a kid stick with you.
"The best advice that I received from my parents is to live below your means and save for a rainy day," Mia Nguyen, Personal Finance Blogger, Dimes & Dollars, tells Bustle. "I made $32,000 at my first job out of college. As I progressed through my career and my salary increased into six figures, I continued to maintain the same lifestyle and saved as much as I could. Thanks to my parent's advice, I currently have over $500,000 saved for retirement."
So what are other major lessons women learned as kids about money? Below, 18 women share the best money tip they learned from their parents, because, let's face it, the advice is likely universal.
Maggie Aland, 25, Marketing Content Editor at FitSmallBusiness.com
"The best thing my parents did for me is to help me open a credit card in my name when I turned 16. They paid my bills until I started earning money on my own, but getting a credit card at this early age really helped me build my credit score. They instructed me to spend a little on the card each month so that the monthly balance would always be marked as paid on time. When I moved to NYC after college, and wanted to rent an apartment, this credit score, which I had not thought about up to that point, was actually checked for the first time. Thankfully — because of my parents' advice — the score was high, and I was able to rent the apartment without a guarantor. Thanks, Mom and Dad!"
Christine Maxwell, 33, Of Her Money Moves
"The best money tip I learned from my parents were their behaviors with money. I saw them often overextend themselves when it came to budgets, and there was no communication between them on big purchases. Every time my dad received a big pay raise, we would get a new house. Sometimes, my mom and I would go shopping, and we would wait until my dad wasn't around to bring in our new haul. From watching their mistakes, I learned as an adult that it's better to live within your budget, even after raises, and always be honest with money and buying decisions with your partner."
"I'm a college senior always on a budget. The best money tip my parents have given me is saving 20 percent of each check I receive. Even though sometimes it may not be much, it all adds up and really does make a difference."
"The best money tip I learned from my mom is to always pay your credit card off at the end of each month and never carry a balance. I see people who have thousands in credit card debt because they see it as an opportunity to buy more than they can afford at the time, and I see what a slippery slope it is when you think of it like that. If you pay it off every month, it helps build your credit, but you still have to think of it like cash — you have to have it (or know you'll have it in the next few weeks) in order to use it."
"My mom and dad told me to never go into credit card debt. It was a 'do as I say, not as I do' situation. They raised and spoiled four kids and were constantly in debt because of it. Every month, they would go through all of their bills at the kitchen table, show me the high payments, and tell me 'Never go into debt!' As an adult, I have almost always paid off my balances every month, because I never wanted to be as stressed as my parents were when they were in debt. I'm so grateful my parents talked about finances with me."
"Don't buy anything you can't pay for in cash, right then and there. Most people don't have the (a) the restraint to use a credit card properly or (b) the attention to detail/budgeting knowledge to keep up with credit card charges. Stick to cash only or using your debit card and checking your app FREQUENTLY to see how much you've spent. If you can't pay for it today, don't buy it. Don't charge it. It's that simple."
"The best tip I got from my dad was the importance of having a savings account and contributing to it regularly. I got my first real check for $50 when I was 12 (I was a pooper scooper in a parade, cleaning up after the horses). I was so excited to spend it, but instead, he took me to the bank, where we opened up my first real savings account. From then on, whenever I got more than $20, we'd go to the bank, where he'd help me deposit it — up until I was 18 and switched to a credit union. I still take part of each paycheck and put it into savings. It's been a lifesaver when emergencies arise!"
"The best money tip I learned from my parents was to save it for a rainy day, and spend it on something you really want. Since I was a kid, I always saved up. I remember the first 'big' purchase I made took a few months of allowance savings, and when I finally bought that royal blue boombox and an Usher CD, it was hard to let the money go, but worth it. To this day, I spend very little — there's not too much I need — that way, when I go to dinner with friends or do occasionally splurge while shopping, I never feel insecure or worried about money, which is a stress reliever that not many of my friends my age have."
"If I really want to buy something, I should break it down into how many hours it would take me to make that money back or pay for it. If the item still seems worth it after that, then buy it if not, leave it there!"
"My mother used to say, 'Save, save, and then save some more — you don't know how much money you are going to need."
"One of the best pieces of advice I've learned from my parents is that 'investment equals advancement'. I have to be willing to invest money in the right things if I want to be successful in life. Now, this doesn't mean you should spend frivolously and not save. It just means you can't be afraid to spend money on things that will educate and propel you forward."
"I've always been one to save, because my parents saved up from a young age to provide necessities and luxuries for the rest of my family. My parents have always taught me not to live beyond my means, which I've followed religiously; if I can't afford it, I won't buy it. They actually instilled the quote 'take care of the pennies and the pounds will save themselves' into me from a very young age, which certainly taught me to budget on both a small and large scale. However, in this new age of social media, so many people advertise their lavish lifestyles online, promoting the 'need' for materialistic goods. As a result, it can be hard for Millennials to budget, simply because there is so much competition and hype around buying things now and worrying about the damage later. I've always believed you should just enjoy what you can afford now and save for the rest, to truly enjoy it."
Christiana Hill, 27, Bravery Coach for Millennials
"My somewhat out-of-the-box tip, I learned from my mother. I've found that my success (and lack of success) financially was directly reflected in what she taught me. Your ability to make, spend, and confidently manage your money all begins with your wallet. If you take time and care for the organization of your physical money and its physical place in your life, you'll often find that your accounts, transfers, and bills are more organized, as well! It's also a mental game, so when you open your wallet to find it neat and taken care of, you're telling yourself that you're responsible and respectful of the money you have, as well as the money coming to you."
"I grew up in a household that really fostered learning about new things and asking lots of questions. We always had newspapers and magazines delivered to the house, our TV's often on MarketWatch, and my parents run their own business. Growing up on a farm, I remember them talking about suppliers, future plans, tax time, and our education funds. As a result, I don't take things at face value when it comes to personal finances. I try to keep learning and questioning whether my money is working for me."
"The best money tip I've learned was about generational wealth from my mom. Developing a way to pass down some type of money, whether it was through stock or life insurance, is something I've kept with me as I grow. Those tips also inspired me to further my research and start my own finance and insurance firm, The Maverick Firm. I've made it to help young women learn about managing their finances and developing generational wealth, too."
"When I got my first job at 14, the rule was that 50 percent of my pay had to go into my savings, period. At that young age, I thought it was dumb, but I followed the rules. As I got older (high school), I tried to put less than 50 percent into my savings and my mom 'punished' me by making the rule 60 percent into savings. It is one of the most important lessons I got from my parents — the value of saving money. Fast forward to a few years ago: I was finishing my Masters Degree (which I paid for in cash), planning a wedding (which my fiancé and I paid in cash), AND purchased my first home with my husband — all at the young age of 25. The down payment for our house consisted of the money I started saving when I was 14. I don't follow the 50 percent savings rule now (it would be extremely hard based on monthly house expenses!), but I always remember it, and we make sure to continue to build up our savings."
"My father always said, 'The value of a dollar is what you trade for it. Some people get good trades and others get bad trades.'"
All of the above said, there are endless money tips out there that women learned from their parents and, as you can see, the women still use them today. It's never too late.