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3 Money Lessons from Mothers

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Motherhood has a way of impacting every aspect of your life, and that’s especially true with finances. New parents frequently face unexpected challenges ranging from figuring out how to best manage a newly expanded grocery bill to understanding the path to long-term financial health as a family. But, you do tend to pick up a few tricks along the way.

To shed some light into the money insights motherhood can provide, we talked to two moms — Tracy Brackman, a LendingTree senior editor and credit card expert, and Jill A. Chafin, a LendingTree writer who covers student loans and small business — about their top financial tips.

As we approach Mother’s Day on May 14, here are three key money tips from these financially savvy moms.

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No. 1: Create a budget

Chafin explains what made her realize the importance of a budget early on.

“Spending can easily get out of hand, especially in the beginning of motherhood since there are so many baby products,” says Chafin, a mother of two to a 5- and a 6-year-old. “You tend to get desperate to find the perfect ‘cure’ for any problems that arise, such as ordering a dozen different sleep sacks or sound machines to try to get your baby to sleep through the night. It’s easy to spend a lot on something you think you need, like a state-of-the-art crib, only for the baby to want to sleep elsewhere.”

Budgeting apps can be helpful here, especially if they have the ability to sync your various accounts and track how you’re spending money. That way, you can look back at spending patterns and make adjustments as needed.

Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll want to look at your various monthly expenses, your income and your financial goals (like saving money or paying off debt) to determine how best to divvy up your funds.

No. 2: Live within your means

One of the most important financial habits to cultivate, according to Chafin, is living within your means. A budget is an important part of this, but it goes deeper than that.

For example, it might mean skipping more luxury or name-brand items and choosing cheaper alternatives. Creating an auto-transfer to a savings account can help keep your spending in check. And if you use credit cards for most of your purchases, it’s important to ensure you’re accounting for those costs and paying off those balances before your next billing cycle to avoid accruing debt and having to pay interest. This approach to finances will also free you to save money for your goals — but it takes a level of awareness and discipline to pull it off.

“Above all else, avoid impulse buys,” Chafin advises. “We’re living in the age of distraction where it’s easy to buy whatever you want with a quick click or swipe. Try to discipline yourself to add stuff to your cart and wait a few days before purchasing. This way you can ensure you need the item and it’s not an impulse purchase.”

No. 3: Never overlook savings opportunities

Brackman — a first-time mom to a 2-year old boy — says one of her biggest money lessons to date came while she was pregnant.

“I felt extremely overwhelmed when it came time to pick out essentials, like a car seat, stroller, crib, pack ‘n’ play, diaper bag, bottles, infant toys — the list is never-ending — especially once I saw the prices of everything. But after reading through trusted blogs and taking in the advice of relatives and friends, I got a much better idea of which products are needed and which aren’t. I also learned different ways to save on these products.”

Some useful but often overlooked resources to save money include:

  • Creating Amazon wish lists to get notices when prices drop for specific items
  • Joining Facebook buy/sell/swap groups to find secondhand items
  • Checking out local garage and estate sales for unique, inexpensive finds
  • Signing up for online coupons from companies you frequently purchase from
  • Putting your accounts on autopay to avoid late fees (and damage to your credit)
  • Shopping around every year for things like car, home and rental insurance

Chafin adds: “Keep finding ways to trim nonessential expenses and remember that every dollar counts. Even if changing your phone provider only saves you $5 a month, it’s still worth it.”

To be clear: You shouldn’t beat yourself up over a single “bad” money decision (avocado toast is not the enemy). Rather, your goal should be consistently making good decisions, like sticking to your budget, living with your means and looking for savings opportunities. That way, you’ll be well on your way to financial health.

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