I want to introduce you to a pretty amazing woman in my life.

My mom.

Yes, the person who carried me for nine months through the horrendous Florida heat – no AC in the car. The woman who taught me how to read. The mom who made sure I brushed my teeth each night, said my prayers, and would spray “good dream spray” aka air freshener in our room at night to keep the nightmares away. She has been such an amazing role model of strength, determination, and loyalty to family over the years and I wanted to share more about her with you.

My mom had to grow up very fast at the age of nine. She and her parents and her seven-year-old sister fled Cuba in 1962 for the United States with the hope of living in freedom. Because she was in school and learning English, my mom would be the one who had to make the phone calls to doctors, repairmen, and lawyers. Having to be uprooted from her idyllic childhood home and move to a new country with a new language had to be jarring but my mom’s resilience and the values instilled by her family enabled her to thrive as a daughter, a wife, and a mother.

I have learned so much from my mother growing up. And since this is a personal finance blog, I thought I would share with you some of the ways my mom had an impact on my personal finance values. Here’s what she taught me:

How to budget. My mom will be the first to tell you that she hates dealing with money, but she has been the one who has managed the day-to-day finances in my family. She and my dad would have budget meetings aka coffee dates to Perkins to go over all of the finances. She always made sure the bills were paid on time and doled out the spending money to my dad and herself. She had a great written budget system where she tracked everything to know where all the money was going. In fact, she was the one who taught me how to plan out my expenses so I could time certain expenses with the paycheck that would cover said expense.

How to look good without spending a lot of money. My mom has mastered the art of buying different pieces at thrift stores and putting together the most amazing outfits. I am always blown away by her styling and how she can put it all together with shoes and jewelry. It’s really challenged me to think outside of what is styled on a mannequin and get creative with my wardrobe choices – without spending a lot of money!

Being creative with what you have and learning to do things yourself. Raising seven kids, my mom had to be creative with stretching dollars and re-purposing items. We moved several times when I was a kid so when we got to each home, my mom would dive into decorating the home to make it our home. We never had fancy interior designers or painters to do the work. My mom was the one on the extension ladder painting a two-story foyer or doing home improvements or building shelves with her power tools. Many times, she would convince (really, it was more her telling) us to help her with these projects. Seeing her example gave me the confidence to be independent and figure things out on my own. This was so important when I first moved out of the house on my own at 21 years old and had to start making major life decisions on my own.

Not worrying about money. While my dad was the super planner of all things money, my mom never thought much about the future and money. She was dealing with the present situation of diapers and laundry and getting kids off to school. Even when she had a moment to breathe, she didn’t fret or lose sleep about how much money was in a retirement account or if they were saving enough for the future. She knows that you can’t plan for everything – life is going to unfold as it does – so don’t waste time worrying. In a lot of ways, it’s been good to have this perspective from her as I tend to be more of an over analyzer, planner and worrier like my dad.

To not be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if it is unpopular. My mom has always stuck to her beliefs, no matter who disagrees with her. She is true to her convictions and will deal with whatever consequences that may come along with those beliefs. I remember one phone conversation we were having about money and how I was trying to deal with some sort of a purchase. My mom said something like, “Why don’t you just get a small loan and make it a little easier on yourself?” I laughed when she suggested that and said “Mom, I want to try to solve the issue and stick to my principles at the same time! Isn’t that what you taught us?” I heard her chuckle and say “Yes, you are right – stick with your principles!”

I have been so blessed call her Mom. I don’t have enough words to show my love and appreciation for what my mom has done for me over the years. I will always be indebted to her for the sacrifices she was willing to make to make sure her kids were raised right.

Thank you for everything you have given me and I look forward to sharing many more years ahead. I love you Mom!