Mothers may know best when it comes to money

May 10, 2023
FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows U.S. dollar banknotes

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Whether they actively teach us about finances, or we just observe how they handle the business of life, mothers can have a massive influence on our financial lives.

For Mother’s Day, we asked a few business leaders about the best money advice they ever got from their moms.

Here is what they had to say.

John W. Rogers Jr.

Founder & chief investment officer, Ariel Investments

“My mom was Deputy Solicitor General, and was a pioneer in serving on corporate boards. I used to go with her to board meetings, like Mobil Oil and Continental Bank. I would go with her to these events at 22 or 23 years old, and just follow her around. It had a big impact on my thinking, about boards as a way to build a lifetime of relationships.

“She also had one of the first African-American stockbrokers in Chicago, Stacy Adams. She would encourage me to go and sit with Stacy when I was a teenager, and develop him as a mentor. He would show me how to do research on companies, and where to find information in the library, and which newsletters I should read. Not only did I learn an awful lot about investing, but I followed in his footsteps and became a stockbroker myself.

“When I started Ariel in 1983, when I was 24, my mom gave me whatever liquid cash she had. She was the most important early investor in Ariel, because she had that generosity of spirit and wanted me to be successful. I was lucky to have her support – and I’m happy it turned out to be a good investment for her.”

Sarah Kunst

Founder & Managing Director, Cleo Capital

“My mom always said, ‘Waste not, want not.’ She was usually referring to uneaten snacks, or clothes I wanted to get rid of after barely wearing them, but she was right in ways big and small.

“Focusing on re-use and maximizing value is a great way to control your finances – keeping a car an extra year, buying or selling second-hand items, and holding on to things you will need in the future versus throwing them away (only to have to re-buy them). We can’t always control how much money we make, but we can control maximizing the value of the things we already have.”

Sir Richard Branson

Founder, Virgin Group

“It is fair to say I owe my career to my mum, Eve. One day in the late Sixties, mum saw a necklace lying on the road near Shamley Green and took it to the police station. After three months nobody had claimed it, so the police told her she could keep it. She came up to London, sold the necklace, and gave me the money. Without that £100, I could never have started Virgin.

“More importantly, mum ingrained values in us that have been more valuable to business success than any starting sum. She taught me the importance of hard work. When I was growing up, she was always working on a project. She was inventive, fearless, and relentless – an entrepreneur before the word even existed.

“She also showed me the importance of treating people the way you would wish to be treated, which has always been a big part of the way we work at Virgin. She showed me how to balance work and play, and that family is the most important thing.”

Christine Dorfler

Chief Financial Officer, National Football League

“My mom was an elementary school teacher for 40 years. She is 76 years old, and still substitute teaches with the same energy, passion, and enthusiasm that she did during her early career. She taught me that very little in life is achieved without hard work and grit. My mom was incredibly proud of earning a living, and her pride and independence inspired me to want to have a career of my own. 

“The best financial advice my mom gave me was to be financially minded at a young age. She taught me that it’s never too early to save, and that it’s more about developing the habit of managing your money wisely than it is the amount of money you have. She also encouraged my sister and me to always set aside a bit of money for self-care: A sage lesson that I practice and appreciate!”

(Editing by Lauren Young and Richard Chang; Follow us @ReutersMoney)