I was taught credit was earned not a given. And if it came too easy, there had to be a hitch. I didn’t have a credit card in college. My mother said, if there’s anything I needed, she would provide. Once I took out a small loan for $50 to pay for something (I can’t even remember). It showed up on the monthly invoice sent home. Even though I paid the loan back, I got a call from home. “What is this for?” No answer from me was satisfactory.

By the time I graduated, I thought I was ready for a credit card. Not so fast, my mother counseled. “You get a credit card when you get a full-time job. And you get an American Express because you have to pay the balance in full every month. That will give you discipline.”

The way I was brought up, credit was a convenience – a way of paying for something without carrying the cash around in your pocket. Credit card companies probably hate people like me and my mom. But we do go a bit in the hole for big ticket items like an education, home or a car (as needed).

The President and my mother seem to have a lot in common when it comes to financial matters. He may have a little more on his side in the knowledge base, but my mom’s instincts are dead on. She called Wall Street out on inflated profits based on hype before everything started crashing down. She scoffed at the rising interest rates with the credit card companies and cut up her cards in protest. “Always question money,” she advises. That’s her way of saying don’t let these people dictate the terms. Everything’s negotiable.

President Obama spent a lot of time with his grand-parents and it shows especially when it comes to his values around money. It’s not about getting more, it’s getting it right and rightly. Afterall his grandmother worked in a bank.

It may look more sophisticated and hip to bank and pay bills without seeing a human face. It may seem like “Somebody loves me” to be qualified for every pre-approved credit application that shows up in the mail box. But it comes at a price, if you can read the tiny print.

Thanks Mom for your eagle eyes! Happy Mother’s Day!