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This Mother's Day - celebrate the good advice you get for free

11 May 2018

According to a piece in National Geographic, Mother’s Day began in the late 1800s as an anti-war movement. The more modern-day version is credited to an American Anna Jarvis, who, according to history and court records, spent most of her life and all of her money protecting what she saw as her day and her intellectual property from commercialisation.

Anna hated the idea of “the hordes of money schemers” trying to make a buck off Mother’s Day, which she saw as a day on which children would celebrate their mothers. Anna’s ‘lawyering-up’ strategy was probably not the best use of her finances. She died in poverty in 1948.

In the spirit of Anna Jarvis, Ruby celebrates with these mother daughter combinations what their mums mean to them and the advice they’ve given them in life… and it doesn’t cost anything.

Kate Obst (below, right) is doing a combined Masters and PhD in health psychology at the University of Adelaide. She is a Westpac Future Leaders Scholar and her area of study, the psychological impact of pregnancy loss for men, LGBTQI people, extended family and siblings, has garnered a lot of interest. Here she sums up what her mums mean to her.

Kate Obst with her mum

My mum

If your mum was a coloured pencil, what colour would she be? Why?

My mum would be her favourite colour, blue. Like the colour blue, she has an overwhelming calming effect on me. No matter what I’m feeling, she always makes the time to talk me through tough situations, and help me regain a sense of clarity and self-confidence. Like a blue sky on a clear, sunny day, she never fails to put a smile on my face or happiness in my heart.

My mum’s advice

Work hard at the things you have committed to and always try to give them your best self. However, at the same time, remember to set aside time for yourself to relax, refresh, and enjoy the things and the people you love.

My stepmum

My mum would be her favourite colour, purple. Like the colour purple, she calms me, keeps me grounded, and encourages me to be imaginative and think deeply. To me, purple is also a powerful colour – my mum is a strong woman who has, and remains, an influential, passionate and trusted leader in her area of work, and has inspired me to do the same.

The most important piece of advice that my mum has always given me is that life isn’t about being perfect; it’s about giving everything your best shot, and no matter what the outcome, success or failure, those who matter most will still be proud and supportive of you.

Amy McDermott (below) is a Primary School teacher and a Westpac Future Leaders Scholar. In 2017 she embarked on studying a Master of Studies at UWA with a combined focus on education and public policy. Amy’s mum was a former teller at Westpac in Western Australia and encouraged Amy to apply for a Westpac Scholarship.

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Amy on her mum

Mum would be a coloured pencil, like one of those ones that only seems to exist in primary school teachers’ prize boxes. This is because she is one eclectic human: one minute she will be discussing quantum mechanics and in the next breath will talk about breeds of dairy cows. No one can ever keep up. I also think she is a multi-coloured pencil. When I was younger I didn’t appreciate just how lucky I was to have a mum who supported me in all I did. I do, now.

Mum’s best advice repeated far too often in my childhood: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. She has always encouraged my sister and me to challenge ourselves in everything we do and to always give things a crack. It hasn’t always worked out, like my attempts at both dance and gymnastics as a child, but sometimes it has really paid off. I never would have been brave enough to apply for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship if she hadn’t encouraged me. At the time I thought it was such a long shot, going as a primary teacher for such an amazing opportunity but here am I almost finished my studies and it has been a truly life changing experience.

Amy’s mum on her mum: Nana

Nana’s colour would be green because of her passion for and connection with the land, farming especially, and livestock grazing in particular. It also extends to her love for gardening, which she still fully engages with at the ripe old age of 86 years. Green also connects with her own generosity - with the abundance and generosity with which plants and nature and the natural world provide for us.

Her advice to me is work hard and be prepared to go wherever there is work; be prepared to do any work, basic work to start with and work your way up. Save to be financially independent and don't depend on others or society for this… don't bludge. Get a good education and or trade/profession and know who is governing and controlling us, and how. Her amazing political awareness.

Eleni Blias is a Westpac Personal Banker in Melbourne. Toula, Eleni’s mother, has been with Westpac for 29 years. (Eleni and Toula, below.)

Eleni and Toula Blias

Eleni and Toula

The best piece of financial advice my mother [Toula] has given me is to spend right. This might sound like a simple concept – but it’s really about not spending more than you earn. My mother always said spending more than you earn is like trying to take a race car up to 200 miles an hour with a warped wheel. In life you need to be ready. There are bumps throughout your journey and financial wellbeing is of the most importance. You have to create your own safety net, and since we know something’s sure to happen - it’s not unexpected - always invest in you and your future.

Sisters Janeda and Jessica Ong (below, left to right, with their mum, far left) have ties with Westpac for different reasons: Janeda is a Westpac Group Technology graduate currently working as an Information Security Analyst in ISG. Jessica is a Young Technologists scholar. She is studying a Bachelor of Business/ Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at UTS.

Janeda and Jessica Ong with their mum

Janeda and Jessica

Hmm, our mum's colour is dark teal! The colour reminds me of the ocean, which is pretty analogous to my mum – I know the ocean can be a little scary sometimes because of how unpredictable it is, but I feel like it always radiates a quiet strength that always makes you feel at ease and is always constantly there. Cheesy, I know!

As for advice: mum would say “Save enough to set yourself up for a good future, but not so much that you can’t enjoy yourself now.” My mum always emphasised balance when dealing with money, so I feel like both Janeda and I now have a pretty healthy relationship with money. Ever since I started working, I always made sure to immediately put at least 60% of each pay check into my savings account; this way, I never feel guilty about spending the rest of my money since I know that I’m already building a nice nest of money for future me.


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