Thanks, Mom, for teaching me about money

By Melissa Shin | May 10, 2013 | Last updated on November 20, 2023
2 min read

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, and I’d like to thank my mom for teaching me about money.

My parents had me in their thirties—not common three decades ago—and I remember asking why. They said they wanted to be financially stable enough to give my sister and me the best lives possible.

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But I never felt like we were well-off. In fact, sometimes I wondered if we spent money at all.

Like many kids, my sister and I had to wear matching outfits. My mom explained it made it easier to give my sister my hand-me-downs (and, presumably, to find us in a crowd). As I reached my teenage years, I noticed most of my classmates wore name-brand clothing, while I was stuck in store-brand duds. I was told I had to save my own money to splurge on such luxuries.

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My mom walked the walk: she always bought things on sale, and stocked up—our deep freezer was always full of meat and made-ahead meals. We reused plastic food containers, and we kept the same furniture, dishes and televisions for 20 years.

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As we got older, my sister and I would tease my parents about these quirks. “That’s how we can afford to go on vacations,” they’d reply.

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Saving wasn’t just a matter of sacrifice. My mom took me to the local bank to open an account around age 10. Then, each time a birthday or holiday would pass, I’d excitedly make a deposit and update my passbook. I watched the $8 balance swell to $50 within a year.

When I was in high school, she helped me invest in my first mutual fund. (Sadly, this was the height of the tech bubble, so I know firsthand what a lost decade is.)

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So despite—and actually, because of—my parents’ frugality, I had a wonderful childhood. It made me into the financially savvy woman I am today.

Thanks, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Also read:

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Melissa Shin

Melissa is the editorial director of and leads Newcom Media Inc.’s group of financial publications. She has been with the team since 2011 and been recognized by PMAC and CFA Society Toronto for her reporting. Reach her at You may also call or text 416-847-8038 to provide a confidential tip.