Here’s How to Show Mom You Love Her on Mother’s Day Without Overspending

Celine Pastore, a financial planner and fiduciary based in Palm Harbor, Fla., poses outside her office.
Celine Pastore, a financial planner and fiduciary based in Palm Harbor, Fla., recommends putting more thought and less cash into Mother's Day gifts. Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

From flowers and cards to brunch and spa treatments, showing love to your mom on Mother’s Day can be costly. But it doesn’t have to be.

We reached out to Celine Pastore, a financial planner and fiduciary based in Palm Harbor, Florida, to get her take on Mother’s Day spending.

Pastore is the founder of SimplePath Retirement and its subsidiary Women’s Wealth Advisor, so she knows a thing or two about being smart about your dollars. Plus, she’s a mother to two adult children — Nicole, 25, and Anthony, 24 — so she has many Mother’s Days under her belt.

Note: The Q & A interview below has been edited for clarity.

The National Retail Federation says 86% of all Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day this year and will spend an estimated $180 per person. As a financial professional, what do you think about this level of spending for Mother’s Day?

From my personal experience, I don’t feel that you need to spend a lot of money for Mother’s Day to truly show your love and appreciation.

I believe that mothers in general are selfless individuals to begin with, so we don’t need to be showered with gifts. On the contrary, I know for me personally that I’m happiest when I’m creating memories with my family [rather] than being showered with gifts.

Our country tends to put too much emphasis on materialism. Trying to find the perfect gift for mom can often put too much pressure on the gift giver as well as the receiver. Take the pressure off and put the attention where it belongs… with honest-to-goodness love and appreciation.

Why not try doing something different [that’s] free and thoughtful, like cleaning her car, creating a photo slideshow or writing her a letter of your greatest memories together?

What was the best gift you’ve gotten for Mother’s Day?

A three-stone imitation sapphire ring on a shiny surface.
Pastore says her favorite Mother’s Day gift is a three-stone imitation sapphire ring that her children bought with their own money when they were 9 and 10. Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

The best gift I think I ever received (other than the birth of my two children) was when they were around 9 and 10 years old. They bought me a three-stone imitation sapphire ring that was supposed to represent my three loves (my two children and my husband).

They bought it at Walmart with their own money, which meant even more to me. I literally wear it every day and get so many compliments on it.

The value of the gift had little to do with the cost and everything to do with the thought they put into it. It means the world to me and keeps them close to me everyday.

Are there any special Mother’s Day traditions in your family?

Our traditions are simple. They are based solely on spending quality time together with my mother as well as my children. Sometimes that involves doing something with my kids in the early part of the day and then spending the afternoon with my mom, especially since she’s 87 now and doesn’t get out as much as she used to.

The morning usually starts out with getting a beautiful card from the kids and my husband, possibly some fresh, inexpensive flowers and [a] nice breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit.

My kids and I really enjoy spending the day at the beach when possible (and renting me an umbrella since my skin is so fair). Sometimes we go to a museum or the zoo as they often have free admission for mothers on Mother’s Day.

Since I work a lot as a business owner, just spending quiet time with my family is the greatest gift of all.

What financial lessons did you learn from your mother?

Pastore poses with a photo of her children, Nicole and Anthony, in her Palm Harbor office.
Pastore prefers spending time with her two children (in photo at left) rather than being showered with gifts on Mother’s Day. Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Since my mom was one of 15 children from Ireland, she knew what it was like to be without. She also spent most of her adult life without her mother as she moved to America when she was only 18. It was over 10 years before she got back to see her mom.

She taught me to work hard, always pay your bills on time (or earlier if possible) and help others less fortunate than yourself even when you think you can’t afford to.

She also taught me that you should never have to ask for your own money back. In other words, if you borrow money from someone, don’t make him or her ask you for it. It’s your responsibility, not theirs.

What financial lessons do you try to teach your children?

I teach my children to use money as a resource and not as a master. Money should be there to serve you, not the other way around. If you spend less than you make, that is the first step.

The second step is to pay yourself first by always putting a set percentage of money aside for your future, and doing it before you pay any bills. If you pay down your debt first, there will be nothing left for you. You will literally be stealing from your tomorrow.

If you pay yourself first and you are short on paying the other bills, you will be forced to get creative and generate more income. You mentally fake yourself out into increasing your own income potential.

Finally, I teach them that money does not buy happiness — a clean heart and a productive life does that — but it does buy choices. If you want to be able to make good choices in your life rather than being at the mercy of others, you need to master money and not have it master you.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys writing about parenting and money.

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