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What did your mother tell you about money?

In honour of Mother’s Day, I would like to share some sage financial advice from the mothers of some accomplished women around the world.

The CEO of a sustainable energy company in England told me her story: “I grew up in England in very difficult circumstances; my family had to rely on the state for support. I saw my mother make decisions through these difficulties and I realized what money could do for her. If there was a choice between paying the milkman or making sure we had a good Christmas, my mother felt sure it was more important that we remember a good Christmas.

“Money is an enabler — the actual amount doesn’t matter. People live very different lives on the same income, so it is most important that you determine how you want to live.”

A board member of several Swiss firms passed along what her mom taught her: “My mother always told me to ‘just be a bit smarter, more practical. Don’t spend more than you’ve got — live within your means.’ When my parents got married at age 24, they had nothing; just their jobs. Both of them worked very, very hard and became extremely well-off. Mother would also encourage me to read newspapers. She told me to try and follow the news and look at myself in the context of what is going on in the world, to get a better understanding of my responsibilities.”

Advice from a mother of five in Spain: “Through years and years of hard work and without getting a degree, my mother ended up with a very influential position in a bank. I learned so much from watching my mother — she always behaved in a very independent manner. In my home, she was involved together with my father in all the financial decisions and invested in the stock exchange and real-estate opportunities. Growing up, I thought this was normal. Although I have worked in two countries as a lawyer, I am now a full-time mother with five children of my own. My husband is the main provider, but I will not take an allowance. We discuss everything pertaining to money and have a balanced relationship. Every decision is made as a team. I couldn’t work any other way.”

This Mother’s Day, remember to give someone a message about money. You just might shape their life!

— Barbara Stewart, CFA, is with Cumberland Private Wealth Management Inc. Visit her website at barbarastewart.ca

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