Throughout the year, mothers give so much to others -- their family, community, work and friends. Mother's Day is a time to give back to them. As you look for special ways to honor the mothers in your life, consider gifts that are off-the-beaten path and keep on giving for years. One idea in the financial realm is to find ways for moms and the entire family to gain greater control of their finances. This may surprise you, but the process can be fun and liberating.
Making mom happy for one day in May is nice, but making mom happy long-term through financial security is truly a gift that keeps on giving. There are many sources of stress in a mother's life. To ease her finance-related stress, here are five ideas for the whole family.
1. Make the family budget a part of everyday life. Early on, parents can help teach kids about where the family's money comes from and goes every month. In the early years, the focus can be on tangible purchases that benefit the kids, such as food and clothing. Children can help pick items out at the grocery store, looking at the cost, helping to calculate the total bill and comparing that total to the budget. Kids in their tween and teen years can take ownership of their own budgets for clothing and extras, tapping money earned from chores, allowances and part-time or summer jobs. In my home, we have a chore chart for our young kids to help them understand how they can earn money around the house. In the long run, kids who are financially responsible -- taking care of themselves and even helping out their parents -- are a great gift for mom.
2. Have family conversations about money. These talks go well beyond the specifics of a family budget and get at money values. Explain to your children that you put money aside every month for retirement or college savings and why you do this. If you don't talk about it, children won't understand that these are important financial priorities that require discipline and a long-term view. You can even have children set aside a portion of their allowance to contribute to their college fund to make the saving process real for them. This also helps them truly appreciate their college experience. Talk to your children -- especially teenagers and young adults -- about credit cards and the dangers of debt, especially as they head off to college or start their first job.
3. Learn together. Many couples are not used to discussing budgeting or retirement planning with each other, let alone teaching their children about these topics. So, parents can learn and educate themselves alongside their children. Moms are often the glue of the family, so they can help make financial education a priority, turning it into a regular family activity just like game or movie nights. It can be intimidating to start the process, which is where the advice and guidance of a financial professional can really help.
4. Help mom set aside her "orange money" for retirement. As a spouse or child, another gift that keeps on giving for mom is helping to pave the way for her retirement years through putting aside "orange money" into retirement savings. Thinking about retirement savings as "orange money" helps you think about this money differently than what is used in day-to-day life. An ING U.S. 2011 consumer study found that women with children at home had the least amount saved for retirement. Moms may not be as ready for retirement as they should be, so spouses and children can help support moms by prioritizing saving for retirement. Working moms can often take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s and stay-at-home moms can save through an individual retirement account (IRA) that is specifically in their name.
5. Protect mom's future security. Few things can be more important than making sure that you are adequately covered by life insurance in case of the unexpected. As a financial advisor, I've worked with many mothers who breathe a big sigh of relief when their spouse gets adequate life insurance to protect the family. Perhaps Mother's Day is the incentive you need to take action and get that life insurance policy you've had on your to-do list for a long time.
Remember that children pick up a lot by osmosis, so your own actions and behaviors related to money will have a big impact on them. Parents lead by example. Teaching children about money lays a foundation for life that helps the entire family. Money is a tool in life and source of energy. When a mother has this energy source, she can draw from it and fulfill what she needs at Mother's Day and beyond into her retirement years.
ING Retirement Coach Jacob Gold is a third generation financial advisor. He is a published author of "Financial Intelligence; Getting Back to Basics after an Economic Meltdown", which was published in August 2009. Gold is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and FINRA Series 7, 24 and 66 securities registered.
Securities and Investment advisory services offered through ING Financial Partners, Member SIPC. Neither ING Financial Partners nor its representatives offer tax advice.