The collective work of moms everywhere is so incredibly significant that it almost seems too limiting to honor them only one day each year. Thousands of years of paternalism has allowed society to feel entitled to receive the oft unnoticed contributions mothers offer households, while presuming moms’ ignorance in other categories—especially household finances. It would, however, be a dreadful mistake to ignore the keen financial instincts of moms.
Married couples have a tendency to dole out household duties in the form of roles for which individuals are best suited. This is an entirely wise strategy that optimally leads to a more efficient and livable familial space. But while handling household finances has historically defaulted to the dude in charge of changing light bulbs, taking out the trash and removing vermin, it is a mistake to presume that the mother of the house is the non-financial spouse.
Even if Mom is the household member least interested in asset allocation, insurance deductibles and itemized deductions, it’s vitally important to include Mom’s non-financial thoughts in financial decisions. This is because personal finance is more personal than it is finance, among other things. Here are three areas of personal finance where a mom’s stereotypical instincts are especially valuable, if not vital:
1) Insurance – Guys have earned the stereotype for having a higher tolerance for risk and a lower tolerance for paying for that which doesn’t feature high definition pixels, buttons, wheels or triggers. We also occasionally struggle to admit when we make mistakes, so paying for something that is intended to protect us from mistakes may seem like wasted money. “I’m not going to die, our house isn’t going to burn down and I’m not going to have a car accident,” so let’s use that insurance premium money to buy a jet ski. Yes, even if Mom doesn’t know how to read an actuarial table, her instinct to protect the homestead and its inhabitants from harm is a good one. Of course, we still want to view insurance through the eyes of a risk manager, not a collector of insurance policies for every known fear, but Mom’s sixth sense brings a healthy balance to insurance decisions.
2) Investing – Here again, Dad stereotypically makes investing decisions by focusing on that which gives the best opportunity for return, downplaying the inherent likelihood that the stock or fund with the greatest potential for return also possesses the highest probability of loss. But woe to the man who ignores Mom’s gut feeling to make capital preservation a higher priority in the handling of the family nest egg. The world’s best investors focus more on risk than return.
3) Nurturing – Financial planning is a process, not a product, and much like moms are often the parent most attuned to the nuanced evolution of their offspring—from newborn to adult—a mother’s nurturing instincts are well suited to seeing that the financial planning process has a forward-thinking trajectory. While dads are stereotypically project-oriented—occasionally spending weeks, months or even years in a special place called Oblivion—moms are often best suited to get the myriad of financial to-dos produced in a plan checked off.
It’s rare that we’d range as far as household finances to find affirming words for moms on Mother’s Day, especially when considering the plethora of other tangible and intangible benefits they bring to our families, but financial planning is yet another important subject in which a mom’s innate maternal instincts should be recognized and heeded.