an Asian mother and daughter sitting on a park bench playing with piggy bank

Financial tips to help you become a money-saving mom

Apr 27, 2021
Empower Insights

Like mother, like daughter.

For Caryl Wojcik, understanding the value of money and the importance of saving definitely came at an early age. Her mom, after all, was a full-time accountant and could stretch a dollar for all its worth back in the day. Whenever there was a pressing priority, there was always a plan in place to cover the cost.

She led by example, too.

“When I was growing up, my mom ran our family finances,” says Wojcik, now a 55-year-old mother of two. “She was very conservative when it came to spending. Everything was on a budget. That’s just how it was.”

From shopping for groceries to socking away a little extra for vacations, every penny truly mattered to Wojcik’s mom.

Wojcik even recalls how her parents would buy her and her two older sisters new clothes just twice each year — once before school started up and again in the winter. They also paid off their home early, a feat Wojcik has already achieved as well, to free up more income for other expenses and essentials, like education. They reserved enough to pay for Wojcik and her sisters to attend an in-state university in Ohio.

“We lived within our means, but it never bothered me,” Wojcik says. “My mom taught me so many great lessons through her actions. She was frugal but also very smart. That’s something that really stood out to me.”

In fact, Wojcik continues to follow some of the same principles that her mom preached to her and her two older sisters when they were being raised. While it may be a different era, generation and world from when she was a kid, Wojcik believes many of the savings steps her mom took then are still relevant today.

Because “Mom knows best,” here are three easy things you can do right now to become a better money-saving mom:

ALLOW AN ALLOWANCE

When Wojcik was younger, her mom and dad paid her $5 every week for completing her household chores, like helping with supper, doing the dishes and cleaning her room. “Pretty standard stuff,” she says. “If I wanted to see a movie with friends, I had to use my allowance. My mom said, ‘Don’t come asking for more.’”

Rates have changed, of course.

These days, two-thirds of parents give their children an average weekly reward of $30 for carrying out common tasks.1

For Wojcik and her husband, they’ve always followed and embraced the age system when it comes to compensating their own kids. That means, for example, their 16-year-old daughter receives $16 on a weekly basis for helping out around the house until she graduates from high school. “They’ve learned how to manage their money and get the most out of it, just like I did,” Wojcik says. “Those are critical skills.”

FUND FOR FUN

To Wojcik, who works for a blood pressure company and lives in the Denver area, “it can’t always be save, save, save. My mom made sure we knew there are important things to spend money on. You have to enjoy life.”

Following in her mom’s footsteps, Wojcik allocates a portion of her monthly income for family trips and adventures. So far, that’s included visits to Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Seattle as well as most of the popular Colorado mountain towns. They even put enough away in the bank to tour Germany and Italy.

“My mom was really good at working travel into our family budget — that was one of her primary focuses and passions,” Wojcik says. “I do the same thing. I’m trying to show my kids that it’s OK to have some fun, too.”

A ceramic white piggy bank sits on a kitchen table

PUT BUCKS IN ‘BUCKETS’

Some for now.

Some for later.

Some for others.

As she’s advanced in her career, Wojcik has applied the wisdom she’s gained from her mom with a simple strategy to help her stay on track with her various financial commitments. “It’s a balancing act,” she says. So, in addition to encouraging her daughter and her son, who is 20, to practice the same routine with their own wages, Wojcik divides her earnings into three overarching categories, or buckets:

  • Spending

It’s all about the basics, such as having cash available to take care of everyday needs, bills and activities. ‘’The main message I share with my kids is, ‘Don’t spend what you don’t have,’” Wojcik says.

  • Saving

Think major, expensive events. In Wojcik’s case, that includes contributing to 529 accounts for both of her kids and continuing to pad her nest egg for retirement, which is right around the corner. Building a stockpile for vacations, emergencies and other obligations is also a big deal to Wojcik.

  • Supporting

“We like to give back,” Wojcik says. “We’ll donate to medical foundations, food banks and local charities.”

“If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be in the financial position I’m in today,” Wojcik says. “She set me up for success.”

Start saving for your future with and Empower Investment Account

1 Ann Carrns, The New York Times, “Average Weekly Allowance? It’s $30, a New Survey Finds,” October 2019.

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