Justin Loiseau with his mother.  (Courtesy Photo)
I love my mom. And despite the chores, the time-outs, and the "Because I said so!" moments, pretty much everything I ever needed to know to succeed in life, I learned from her. Although I didn't realize it at the time, her maternal management even taught me how to make the most of my money.

Here are the three best tricks she ever showed me.

1. Fill Up the Penny Jar

Think back to the days when we used cash instead of credit cards. (I know, it's a distant and fading memory.) Whenever my mom pulled a crisp bill from her wallet, there was a 99 percent chance she would receive some coins in return. But rather than count up her quarters and blow it all on gumballs like yours truly, my mother nickeled and dimed her way to an impressive amount of savings.

Let's say my mom spent $30,000 a year and tucked away five cents on every dollar. By my eighteenth birthday that jar of change would have grown into a health $27,000 in savings. That's a respectable college savings account.

Even with the prevalence of plastic payments, the "penny jar" need not be lost to the ages. I barely touch cash, but my penny jar comes in the form of 401(k) savings, automatic tax withholdings, and a percentage of my income that I choose to invest each month. Employers and banks have made it easier than ever to squirrel away savings, and any earner would be wise to take advantage.

2. Take Time to Can the (Proverbial) Strawberries

Every May, my family headed to the fields to pick bucket loads of the reddest, ripest strawberries around. Then we spent an entire day toiling over hot pots and getting headaches to turn the delicious morsels into jam.

I often wondered why I couldn't just stuff my stomach and call it a day. But for the other 11 months of the year, I found myself thankful for our canning chaos as I applied generous dollops of jam on my toast every morning.

Seasonality exists in almost everything we do, and it pays to take heed. There are metaphorical strawberries to be canned – and money to be saved -- in all aspects of our lives, whether it's buying a plane ticket in advance, taking advantage of tax holidays, or waiting for next year's new car model to buy this year's edition when the dealer's trying to clear the lot.

3. Keep Your Scissors Sharp

By the time my mom got through with the Sunday newspaper, it was little more than confetti. With an arsenal of coupons, we'd hit the department stores and grocery stores, knocking up to 50 percent off retail prices and causing checkout line chaos wherever we went. My mother was vigilant about clipping coupons to cut the grocery bill, and I loathed the weeks when lima beans were buy-two-get-one-free.

Out of everything my mother taught me, the lesson about coupon clipping is the one that tops my list. While feeding the penny jar and canning strawberry jam required spending money to save, coupon clipping provided direct discounts that affected our expenses immediately. And nowadays, coupon clipping is easier than ever. Smartphones have revolutionized savings (think Groupon, LivingSocial, Foursquare), and memberships to places like Costco and Sam's Club offer built-in savings every day of the year.

Mom Knows Best

I don't go to time-out anymore, and I rarely take "Because I said so!" as an answer for anything. But when it comes to questioning my mother, I'm through with my youthful days of defiance.

Mom knows best, and her financial tips have helped me manage my money efficiently and effectively throughout the years. I buy low, sell high, save more, spend less, and can enjoy the better things in life because of it.

Thanks mom, and I'll be sure to ship you some strawberries for Christmas.

Justin Loiseau is a contributing writer to The Motley Fool.


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9 Comments

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MARIE@GLITZ2007

everytime we come home from the grocery store, we put the change in a large gallon wiskey bottle. by the end of the year, we have about $500. bucks and it sure comes in handy when costs are still going up. its like hitting a hidden stach and sure comes in handy. i hate owing money. Don't laugh, it is amazing how much money you can aquire just dropping in your change every day. the more the merrier.

December 04 2012 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred

Credits are fast and easy,But if you quitet useing them, and only use cash.you will have more money,I have no credit,cause I pay cash, save till I get it done.Its really not safe to use a CC, they can take every thing out of your checking acct.

November 30 2012 at 4:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nla123

do not worry about spending money, focus on making money, spending is a way of life. bottom line, do not deprive yorself of anything as long as you make more than you spend.

November 30 2012 at 2:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spike

My friend calls credit cards ,get it cards.

November 29 2012 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ingeniousinvesting@gmail.com

1. Spend less than you earn
2. Live below your means
3. Save the difference

It's not about how much you earn but more so how much you keep.

http://www.ingeniousinvesting.com

November 29 2012 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cyrosie

What a smart mom. I remember not making jam but cannin peaches - that's when you could buy a crate of them. It was a lot of work, but come winter, those peaches tasted marvelous.

November 29 2012 at 3:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cyrosie's comment
Annika

You can still buy fruits and vegetables by the box or crate, you just have to ask your grocer. When potatoes go on sale I buy them by the box and just stick them in a cool spot so they'll last. I've also found apples sold on CL by the box, but I'm talking those huge boxes like the ones they keep pumpkins or melons in. If you have a use for that many apples you can get a really great deal.

November 30 2012 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donut999

It would be nice if we could climb in the time machine and take personal finance back 50 years. Folks could not live much beyond their means simply because there was not an effective way to do it. About the only charge cards available were Sears and Penney's, maybe not even cards until later, but "open accounts". Folks had discipline back then. If you were overbuying, the retailer would let you know it. Same with housing back in the day of the corner Savings and Loan. My parents did have a charge a/c at the grocery a block away. Mainly because one of us 6 kids was in there 2 or 3 times a day picking something up for Mom. It was always paid in full once a week on payday.

Furniture stores and other retailers would "carry their own accounts". If you were not current, it was known since the credit lady and one of the salespeople lived on your street. Plus, people just simply paid their obligations.

Unfortunately, we cannot go back. Easy credit was made a little less easy starting in 2007, many cleaned up their debt. But, now they are right back at it.

November 29 2012 at 1:21 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Frank

We have a change bank as well. Funny thing is after the money is in the jar you forget about it. Usually, we empty the bank once a year and put the money towards vacation. Most years it totals a little over $1,000. Even though it is our money it feels like we hit a jackpot or something. To save on coin redemption fee's (10% or so) we tend to spend the spare quarters and then put their equivalent in dollar bills into the bank. We also throw 5's. 10's and an occasional 20 in there if we have it.

November 29 2012 at 10:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ED

And I'll bet mom didn't waste money on credit card interest either!

November 29 2012 at 9:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ED's comment
cyrosie

What's a credit card???

November 29 2012 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply