She is one of the most universally revered people on the planet. She is a nurturer, a provider, a support system, an educator, and sometimes, a needed disciplinarian.
She is Mom.
But rather than queuing up to wait for a table in an over-crowded restaurant or paying a jacked-up price for flowers that will wither and die within days, why not treat your mom to something a little more personal (and easier on the wallet) this Mother’s Day? Here’s how to master Mother’s Day without spending a dime.
Teach her tech
The very fact that she is your mom means she grew up in a different time, one that probably didn’t use computers, cellphones, online banking, and various other things we take for granted daily. Around the time my mother finally figured out how to operate the VCR on her own, society forced her to upgrade to a DVD player.
It’s no secret that we live in a high-tech era. With new devices and gadgets being released every few months or so, it can be hard to keep up, whether your mom is a millennial or a baby boomer. But here are a few ways you can help get your mom up to speed in the digital world.
- Enter key contacts into her phone’s address book.
- Set up the appropriate spam filters on her email account – and show her how (and why) to periodically check her junk mail folder for messages that erroneously end up there. On the other hand, warn her about email scams and show her the characteristics of phishing emails that may end up in her inbox (spoof email addresses, links to fraudulent websites, urgent subject lines).
- If she has issues navigating the home entertainment system, write up a cheat sheet that shows her how to switch inputs and devices.
- Clear up space on her phone by transferring some of the images in her camera roll to a computer, and print off copies of her favourites (if you can find anywhere that still does that!).
- Set her up with online bill payments and show her how to manage her bank account online. If she balks, remind her that most companies are heavily pushing customers to get e-statements instead of snail-mail bills, by charging monthly premiums to clients who insist on a paper statements.
My dad passed away some years ago, and my only brother lives a two-hour flight away, so when it comes to grunt work, I’m often the guy my mom calls. But even if your dad is still keen to putter around, and you’ve got a soccer-team of able-bodied siblings, your Mom will always appreciate an extra hand around the house, and it saves the task of having to hire someone else to do the work. Here are a few things you can do:
- After a bit of a false start, spring really is here for good. Now is the perfect time to rake up last year’s leaves, prune deadwood off of trees and shrubs, and seed and fertilize the lawn.
- Organize and purge any clutter from the garage, attic, basement, or any other room in the house that’s becoming a landfill of junk.
- Wash and vacuum her car. And if needed, top up her oil and windshield washer fluid.
- Ask to see her to-do list of odd jobs around the house (every mom has one of these), and tackle as many as you’re qualified to handle. Painting a room, fixing a leaky faucet, oiling some squeaky hinges, or repairing a torn window screen are all relatively easy spring maintenance jobs.
Figure out finances
Granted, Mother’s Day may not be the best time to bring up retirement planning and wills, but since you are thinking about her, it’s worth thinking about her financial wellbeing.
If Dad takes care of all the finances, perhaps your mom could use a tutorial on some general personal bookkeeping and financial planning. Or if they don’t have one already, maybe both of them could use some help with opening an RRSP.
What some couples fail to understand is the importance of both parties being involved in the household finances. If one happens to die before the other, he or she could face some serious difficulties getting their finances in order.
You could start by sending her links to some of the relevant articles on this blog. After you’ve covered the basics, make an appointment for her with a financial and/or estate planner to make sure everything else is properly organized.
You don’t have to shell out hundreds to make mom happy this Mother’s Day. There are many ways to show you care for free, aside from making her breakfast in bed of course!
Happy Mother’s Day!
This post has been updated.