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Debt-Free Living

5 Lessons I Learned From My Mom

With Mother’s Day approaching, I thought I’d share with you guys some of the lessons my mom taught me. These are the values I’ve carried throughout my own life and plan to pass on to my own children.

Debt is deceiving.

When I was in high school, I went with a group of friends to a concert. The tickets were $100—so pretty pricey for a high schooler, right? I had to make several babysitting appointments to pay for that ticket!

One of my friends couldn’t go because she said the ticket was too expensive. I totally understood that, but what surprised me is that this same friend drove a brand-new luxury car! I remember asking my mom how this girl could drive a car like that but couldn’t afford a concert ticket. I’ll never forget what she said: “Rachel, that’s what debt does. This may not be your friend’s case, but remember, debt makes people look better than they actually are.”

Don’t play the comparison game.   

I wish I could tell you this little story was from my childhood, but it actually happened in my early twenties. I went out to eat with my parents one night and noticed my mom’s new designer purse. It was so cute!

When I got home, I hopped online to order it and realized . . . that’s an expensive purse! It was definitely out of my newlywed budget. I could’ve afforded it, but the purse wouldn’t have been the wisest use of money at that point in my life.

That’s when I realized how silly it was to compare my lifestyle to my parents’ lifestyle. They had a 30-year head start on me! When you’re in your twenties, it only makes sense to live like you’re in your twenties. Living any other way can get you into trouble.

 Always say thank you.

When I was really young, my mom always stressed the importance of saying thank you when someone gives you a gift. In our house, that took the form of a handwritten thank-you note.

Years later, after I got married, I was so proud of writing every single thank-you note for our wedding gifts. There’s something special about a handwritten note, especially since everything is so automated and digital these days.

Wants and needs are two different things.

Yes, they’re two completely different things, but sometimes we get them confused. As a kid, I know I didn’t understand the difference. Thankfully, my parents slowly helped me see it over the years.

Food, clothes, shelter—those are needs. The latest video game, a designer purse, the trendiest smartphone—those are wants. As my kids get older, I want to instill this in them in every way I can. Even when they’re whining in the toy aisle at Target (especially when they’re whining in the toy aisle at Target), it’s so important to be consistent with this.

I’ll never forget how intentional my parents were about making sure we understood our responsibility to help others.

Generosity matters.

When my sister and I were teenagers, my mom dropped us off at the mall one day. The goal? Go clothes shopping for two other teenage girls who had very little. That was a big moment for us because it helped us step outside ourselves for a little bit and focus on other people. For a teenager, that’s a big deal!

I’ll never forget how intentional my parents were about making sure we understood our responsibility to help others. Whether it’s volunteering, shopping for the less fortunate, or donating money, my parents always stressed the importance of giving.

I’m so grateful my mom passed these lessons along to me, and I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way about their mom. So, if you’re fortunate to still have your mother around, take some time this year to say “Thanks, Mom.” Let her know how much you love her and appreciate the lessons she passed along.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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  • Elizabeth Algutifan

    Rachel, you and your siblings are very blessed to have received such valuable life lessons from your parents! Happy Mothers Day to you and to your beautiful mom!

  • Ana T

    Thank you for sharing. Secret of happiness? Great Parenting. You received great parenting from your parents and that is why you and your siblings are the way you are!! Keep inspiring us!
    Only thing I do not agree with is shopping at Target- I hope Target change their position on allowing men- who feel like they are woman- to use the bathroom of the women. Have family bathrooms instead.
    Tolerance is love without truth. Choose love!