Save more than you spend.
"Any time I would get money for allowance, I was required to immediately put 75 percent of it into a savings account my parents had created for me. The other 25 percent would go into my piggy bank for a larger purchase that I wanted to 'buy with my own money.'"
Michael N. Bapis is partner and managing director with The Bapis Group at HighTower Advisors, a financial services firm headquartered in Chicago. His mother is Elaine Bapis, 63, a college professor who is currently taking a year off but recently taught at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
Pay it forward.
"Whenever I was lucky enough to receive money as a gift from family and friends, my mom was always careful to remind me to 'save some for myself and some to give to others.' It was a lesson we were taught when we were very young, and for as long as I can remember, I had two savings accounts for these gifts: one for my own purchases and one to spend on my siblings or those in need."
Renee Newman is a senior vice president and the wealth management director for Sterling Bank, headquartered in Vancouver, Wash. Her mother, Sally Anderson, 72, worked not just as a financial adviser to her children, but as a maid, chauffeur and short-order cook – in other words, a stay-at-home mom – while her husband, for much of the time, was employed overseas. Anderson is now a full-time grandmother to seven grandkids.
Have your own money.
"Growing up, my parents were the traditional married couple of the 1960s and 70s. The first day they were married, my mom, still a college student, said to my dad, 'So I guess I ask you for money now?' I was born nine months after their wedding day. Until we were in school, Dad worked, Mom stayed at home to parent my brother and me. Dad made all the financial decisions unilaterally. Dad paid the bills. Dad, being very frugal, doled out money sparingly. Dad had big toys – a dune buggy, an antique car … I don't remember my mom having anything frivolous ... I remember very early on – before age 10 – deciding that I would never be in a position where I had to ask someone for money. I would have my own money."
Karen McIntyre is managing director and senior financial advisor of Wescott Financial Advisory Group, headquartered in Philadelphia. Her mother, Judi Brody, 70, of Stuart, Fla., ended up going into the workforce with many of her peers, working as a reading specialist for a local school and running a travel agency with her husband, Michael. They recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
For a rich future, learn from your past.
"Values are passed down through the generations in the stories that we tell – and our family story was incredibly powerful. Growing up, my mother used to talk about my maternal grandfather, who was born into a wealthy English family and inherited what today would be many millions of dollars. Like many of the landed gentry of that era, he had scant idea for how to manage money. A gentleman farmer, he would regularly sell the estate he currently owned and buy a smaller farm, thus freeing up capital that he could then spend. By the end of my grandfather's life, the great family fortune was gone. That story had a profound effect on my own thinking about money, and I believe it's the reason I've always made sure to live well within my means."
Jonathan Clements, based in New York City and director of financial education at Citi Personal Wealth Management, shares this story. His mother, June Dosik, 73, is now retired but spent much of her career as an executive assistant at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.