College Savings

Money lessons: what I learned from my mother

Money jars of savingsThe path each of us takes to reach our aspirations is different. The champions and loved ones who are there to guide us vary by person. But no one reaches their aspirations without a strong foundation to build upon. This is the story of my path, and the foundation that was my mother’s commitment to my future.

Growing up in my family, money was all we talked about, mostly because there wasn’t any. My mom had to raise three boys by herself and also take care of my aging grandmother. Despite this, my mother somehow always found time to take part in my life and teach me new things.

One concept that she made a priority for me to learn was how to be financially responsible and make good decisions with money. Every Sunday she would sit me down at the kitchen table and we would go over her income and expenses. She would make me add up the numbers and see whether or not she could pay all she needed to for that particular month. When I was younger, I just viewed this as “math fun time” with mom. As I grew older and I started to realize that it wasn’t a game, it became much more serious.

I wouldn’t take back those conversations for anything. They taught me to be grateful for what I have, no matter how little, and to work hard to get what I want in life. Just as important, they taught me how to manage my money. I learned that I need to always pay my bills on time and set financial goals. The lessons taught me to make wise decisions on how I spend money, and to stay away from debt if possible.

Debt was a big conversation in my family when it came time to applying to college. College costs money, and because of my experience growing up, I was acutely aware of it, thanks to my mom. My mom also emphasized that it wasn’t an option not to go to college. A college education is the key to success, and she wasn’t going to have me miss out on it.

Still, she didn’t want me to graduate with a large amount of debt. So as my acceptance letters rolled in, we sat down much like we had when I was a young boy. We analyzed each financial aid package to make the best decision for me. As a result, I am going to graduate from college with only $7,000 in debt. Thank you mom!

It is thanks to her commitment to my future that I have these skills, and they have helped me ensure I can achieve my goal of graduating from college. Now it is my turn to pass along the lessons learned from my mother and play my role in helping every child achieve their goal of graduating college. As I embark upon my new experience as a Fellow with the SeedMA program, I am committed to helping families in Worcester understand the importance of making smart financial choices – including saving for college consistently – so that they may lay the foundation to help their children reach their highest aspirations.

Jose Medina-SantosJose Medina is a senior at Worcester State University about to graduate with his bachelors in Criminal Justice. Currently he works with the SeedMA program as a Fellow helping Worcester Public School kindergarten families enroll in SeedMA and open college savings accounts.