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Mom's Money Tips

We learned our first lessons about money (not to mention hygiene) at home. What better time to celebrate those cherished life lessons than this weekend? After you call your mother, of course.

Nearly half of us picked up financial habits from our parents, according to a study by Money Management International and Quest Business Agency. We revisited our childhoods by calling our mothers and therapists to dredge up the following bits of time-honored wisdom. And we've added a few ways to heed Mom's advice while still maintaining that rebel reputation you've carefully crafted over the years.

"Money doesn't grow on trees." And it can't be counterfeited easily, either. A dollar spends the same, no matter whether it goes toward Botox or the baby's college education fund. Treat it with care, and don't take any five-dollar bill for granted. Job loss, transmission issues, and teenage dentistry can blow bills out of your wallet faster than an F4 tornado. Tending to an emergency stash of cash can give you and your family shade from life's unexpected storms.

"Do as I say, not as I do." Declaring the house a "disco-free zone" and treating Crisco as a major food group are not habits to emulate. Nor is living on credit or ignoring your future financial needs. Even if you weren't taught good financial habits growing up, it's never too late to pass on what you've learned to your kids. First, have "the talk," and then email them a link to the Fool's Teen area to get them started.

"Do I look like I'm made of money?" Not in that plaid muumuu. Mom cut corners to make ends meet, and so should you. There's a big difference between needs and wants. (EZ Bake Oven, anyone?) Examine each expenditure in your budget and prioritize. We wrote a grown-up workbook that can help.

"You don't always get what you want." Despite the fact that Madame MasterCard is cool with your frequent cash advances, Mom probably wouldn't be. Even grown-ups have to make choices. When you look at what it costs to borrow money vs. taking time to amass the funds and pay in cash, you'll feel very grown up when you make the right choice.

"Don't leave any crumbs on the counter!" Has your wallet sprung a leak? Small amounts of dollars can add up to big bucks. Clean up the big financial messes first, and then pay attention to the smaller cash spills in your daily routine. There's nothing like coming home to a clean sink with a lot more spare change in your pocket.

Common sense and caring are the cornerstones of motherly advice. Now go wash your hands -- with soap! -- and get to work on your finances.


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Dayana Yochim
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