Do Moms Have the Biggest Financial Influence?

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Source: iStock

When it comes to your parents, who do you rely on most for money advice? Does mom get top billing or is it your dad? A recent report by shows that Americans have mixed opinions on the level of their mother’s impact on their financial education.

Younger survey respondents say mom is tops when it comes to gleaning financial advice. Roughly 31% of 18- to 29-year-olds agree. However, older survey respondents don’t feel the same. Just 10% of participants age 50 and older say their mom has been a major financial influence.

When the samples were broken down by education and income level, those who had higher levels of education and income said they relied less on their mom for financial advice. The percentage of those who said they did depend on mom was just 14% for college graduates and 14% for those with an annual household income of $75,000 or above.

One thing is clear: Americans are very reliant on themselves when it comes to managing finances. Most of those who took part in the survey said that they are their own biggest financial influence (28%). However, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Consumers might be relying on themselves, but not many think they are doing a very good job. A financial literacy survey released by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and NerdWallet reveals that 70% of Americans are worried about their personal finances, and 23% strongly agree they could benefit from the advice of a financial professional.

The Cheat Sheet spoke with’s senior industry analyst, Matt Schulz, for more on how Americans view mom when it comes to money advice.

The Cheat Sheet: Why do you think millennials are most likely to be influenced by their mothers when it comes to financial advice?

Matt Schulz: I think that for a lot of millennials these conversations with their mom might be happening every day. They could be living at home because of a bad job market or they might still be in college and still in touch with their mom. I think that the role of the mother, especially over the last generation, has changed so much, that they are playing a much bigger role and wearing hats that they didn’t have to before. I think that makes the millennial generation more likely to rely on mom.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

CS: When you refer to the different hats, are you referring specifically to the fact that more women are head of household? A recent study showed that women are now the primary earners in more than 40% of U.S. households.

MS: Yes, I’m referring to households with both parents working and the large growth in single-parent households. There has really been a major shift in society and I think that this survey is reflecting that somewhat.

CS: Why do you think mothers are losing their influence among college grads and those who are in a higher income bracket?

MS: I think some of that is just a function of age and experience, where millennials might be having these money conversations with mom today, and those conversations might be a little fresher in their minds. Older generations have already had the experience of paying their own bills and making their own mistakes, and also soaking up a lot of the expert advice that’s out there. They then internalize all of these experiences and start to see themselves as their own biggest financial influence.

CS: What are some things that mothers can do to help their children sharpen their financial skills?

MS: One of the most important things mothers can do is to have conversations about money with their kids. When you open this dialogue you can share some of your mistakes and tell what you’ve learned from them. This can have a great impact. As much as you think your children aren’t listening and watching what you’re doing, they are in fact listening and watching everything that you do. It would also be helpful to introduce personal finance books and encourage a deeper understanding of money.

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