Claudia Buck

Mom knows best? Businesswomen share their mothers’ best money tips

Maja Andersen illustration
Maja Andersen illustration The Kansas City Star

Happy Mother’s Day. Studies have long shown that women exert enormous control over family finances, even if they’re not the primary income-earners.

Given that status, and in honor of the women in our lives, we asked eight businesswomen for the “best financial advice” they got from mom. Their often-heartfelt answers are excerpted below:

Helen Horyza, owner of Elite Inc., career counseling/employee engagement consulting, Folsom

One thing that really stuck out: Just pay your bills, especially when you’re just hanging on financially. Pay something. And value your credit rating. As I moved into owning my own business and had to use credit to survive, my credit rating is what kept me alive. It allows you to borrow when you need to. I had a good track record because I’d never missed paying a bill. One missed payment can haunt you.

Rashida Lilani, certified financial planner, owner of Lilani Wealth Management, Roseville

The best financial advice I got from my mom: No matter how much you earn, always try and save a little. Also, always know how much you’re going to spend before you leave the house. That’s it: simple yet so profound. My parents came from humble beginnings in Pakistan and my mom never worked. But somehow, she always managed to put money away for different things, whether it was for stuff around the house or for us five kids. (The family immigrated here as adults.) And to this day, when she goes shopping (with me), she’ll know exactly how much she’s going to pay, including sales tax, before she gets to the cash register.

Tina Florence, certified financial planner, Lane Florence LLC, Folsom

My mother is a poster child for the person who needed (financial planning). She didn’t understand money, how it worked, how to invest. A huge wakeup call came 25 to 30 years ago: She tried to get a credit card and was denied because she had no credit in her name. She felt powerless. It took her many years to carve out a comfortable (financial) niche with my dad. She wasn’t comfortable with his investing style, so we opened an account for him; one for her. She has separate money in her own name. She always told me: Understand money. Be an equal partner. She was adamant about going to college, getting an education and learning how to take care of yourself. Don’t rely solely on a partner, because then you don’t have to be afraid.

Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education,, San Francisco

My mom and I didn’t talk much about money when I was growing up, though I know there were definitely times that money was tight. As a (Lithuanian) immigrant whose family came to the U.S. with nothing, she could have easily tried to keep a tight hold on everything she and my father accumulated. But instead, she’s always been extraordinarily generous. Her kitchen was (and still is) always open for a wonderful meal at a moment’s notice. If there’s a dish you like, chances are she will remember and make it for you. She’s taught me that accumulating things isn’t nearly as fun as sharing.

Lacey Johnson, CFP and vice president, Fidelity Investments, Palo Alto

The primary lesson I learned from watching my mom raise four kids is how empowering financial independence is for anyone. Finances were always something we struggled with as a family ... it’s the wedge that eventually drove my parents apart. There’s a statistic that 9 of 10 women will be the sole financial decision maker. I saw that really play out in my mom’s world. She was a stay-at-home mom; my dad worked with very low income. (After their divorce), she had, for the first time ever, to figure out what a budget is, where her income was coming from. ... Going back into the workforce was pretty scary. ... But since then it’s empowered her to handle all things financial. I’m proud of her.

Trudy Nearn, estate planning attorney, founder of Generations law firm, Sacramento

The one good piece of financial advice that my mom gave each of us three girls was to be able to support ourselves so that we did not have to depend on anyone else, ever. We all took that to heart. I have brothers, too, but I guess she did not think that boys needed to hear that advice.

Judy Seibold, financial adviser, Merrill Lynch, Roseville

My mom and dad raised five kids on a small budget. My dad worked on the docks for a national soup company and my mom was a school bus driver. My mom was the queen of living within her means and has always been diligent about keeping a detailed log of our family’s finances. But she also taught me to think of others. Both my mom and dad were very generous in their charitable contributions; even when money was limited, they still gave generously to our church and others. My mom taught me from a young age to work hard for what I want, to live within my means and to be generous with what I have.

Gina Lera, estate planning attorney, Lera Tiberini law firm, Sacramento

My mom told me three things about money that have served me well in life:

1. Get an education, have your own career and never be dependent upon anyone else, especially a man, for your financial well-being.

2. If you are going to splurge on something extravagant, be sure to enjoy it and don’t waste a single moment feeling guilty about it. Life is way too short to spoil a good thing with pointless guilt.

3. Always immediately put cash and checks received from another person in your wallet, no matter what. That way, you’ll never lose them or your mind hunting for them.

I wish my mom would have told me to buy Tesla or Apple stock!

Call The Bee’s Claudia Buck at (916) 321-1968 or read her Personal Finance columns at

Mom knows best?

When it comes to money advice, mom is the go-to person for about a third of millennials ages 18-29, according to a recent phone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults. But that’s not true for everyone. Here’s a look at who Americans said was the most influential person in their life on money matters:

Self: 28 percent

Mom: 16 percent

Spouse: 14 percent

Dad: 14 percent

Among millennials, 31 percent cited mom