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The Best Money Advice My Mom Ever Gave Me

Financial wisdom from the moms of Tony Hawk, Kevin Smith, Mark Cuban and more

Tony Hawk, Mark Cuban, and Kevin Smith posing with their mothers
Sean McCabe

Moms are usually the first source of information in our lives. And it might take us years to realize, but their advice is usually correct. In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked a few famous (and kinda famous) guys to share the best money advice they ever got from the women who raised them.

* * *

Pay With Cash

“When I was in my late teens and going to community college, you couldn’t go 5feet on campus without someone at a small table offering you a thermos or a stuffed animal in exchange for signing up for a credit card. So my friend and I had a contest to see who could collect the most. My mom started seeing the plastic show up in the mail, and one day she told me, ‘Cash is always best, Tiger. Don’t use any of those credit cards until you absolutely have no choice.’ I followed her advice and never touched them ... until I wanted to try to make a film at age 23. I had no money to do so — but I had those unused credit cards. And that’s how Clerks happened.”
—Kevin Smith, filmmaker-actor

Shop Around

“You can always find it cheaper if you look.”
—Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank cohost

There’s Always a Way

“In my 20s, I discovered that when my siblings and I were children, my mom had called up the local soccer league and asked if there was any way to waive the fees, since paying for multiple kids in a soccer league is expensive. They said, ‘Sure — if you chalk the fields before the games.’ My mom did just that, so we could play soccer with uniforms and equipment.”
—Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich

Don’t Buy What You Can Get For Free

“So, my mom told me to stop wasting paper-route money on records. This was good advice, because I could’ve made friends with people with older siblings—older siblings always owned a ton of records. I could’ve ingratiated myself and showed up at their houses with an armload of Maxell 90s. The good kind, with the gold covers. Still would’ve had enough money for a sweeter amp.”
—Mike Doughty, singer-songwriter

Don’t Neglect Your 401(k)

“My mom always regretted not starting her 401(k) until later in her life. So she was adamant that I start contributing to one as soon as I was eligible. She told me to put in as much as I could, especially up to the max match of whatever place I was working at. That was her best advice. Running a close second was that she was adamant about splitting 8s [in blackjack].”
—Jon Gabrus, comedian and host (Guy Code, Comedy Bang! Bang!, 101 Places to Party Before You Die)

Respect the Budget

“When I was a kid, I always complained about what my mom made for dinner. So she once told me, ‘Let’s see what you can do with this budget.’ The week I was in charge, we ate hot dogs every night. And I quickly decided I did not want to eat hot dogs every day for the rest of my life. I think she wanted to teach me about the challenge of living within your means. But I learned a different lesson: how important it was for me to expand my means, not just live within them.
—Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series of books

Marry Up

“This is the only financial advice my mother ever gave me. ‘If you’re not going to be a doctor, marry a doctor. If you don’t marry a doctor, then go run a health insurance company. That’s where the real money is.’”
—Lewis Black, stand-up, actor and author

Pay Attention

“The two things my mother said that always stuck with me: ‘Don’t take any wooden nickels.’ I had no idea what a wooden nickel was, but I always checked to make sure the coin was metallic and not wood-grained. I believe it was her way of telling me to pay attention to my money. The other advice was ‘Don’t borrow from Peter to pay Paul.’ I never understood this concept until I was in my 30s, and I realized she was telling me: Do not dip into my capital; always use the interest.”
—Matt Williams, creator of Roseanne and Home Improvement

Prioritize the Things With Real Value

“My mom didn’t offer financial advice when I was growing up. Instead, she showed me the value of friends and family by organizing social gatherings as much as possible. Her kids were her top priority, so she was happiest when they were together with her. I try to emulate that sense of connection and gathering with my own kids as much as possible. It is far more rewarding than any finances I have accrued.”
—Tony Hawk, legendary skateboarder, entrepreneur and founder of The Skatepark Project

[Additional reporting by Margie Zable Fisher]

Follow Article Topics: Money-&-Career