The Surprising Money Lessons Katie Couric Taught Her Daughters

Find out how the talk show host puts the fun in frugalBy Katie Couric

To really get to know a Couric woman, you just have to follow her to the cereal aisle. Recently, halfway between the Froot Loops and the shredded wheat, I looked on as my mother hunted and pecked through those shelves looking for the brands that were advertised as three for $6. No other cereal would do. She saw no reason to spend more, or to pass up a deal like that. Photo by Ida Astute, Disney ABC

Suddenly I was 6 years old again and opening a birthday card from my grandmother. A $5 check was enclosed. In my mind, I was already dressing the new Barbie I'd buy. My parents had other plans. The check, like all the others I received from my grandmother, went straight into my college fund.

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The idea of saving up for the important stuff was partially a generational thing for my parents. They both grew up during the Depression and had to learn the value of a dollar at a very young age, and their attitudes toward money rubbed off on me.

Matt Lauer used to tell me that when I opened my wallet, moths flew out. That's funny but not 100% true. The joke implies I'm cheap, but really I'm just frugal. There's a difference! I'm generous with friends and family, and I regularly give to charity. But I can hit a clearance sale like A-Rod hits a baseball. I often bring leftovers for lunch. I wear some fancy clothes and jewelry at work, but here's a secret-a lot of them are borrowed.

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I'm not exactly throwing money around, but I think an occasional splurge is good for you. I subscribe to the theory that if you're always planning for a rainy day you never really enjoy the sunshine today. Ellie is graduating from college this year and Carrie's going to be a senior in high school. Before they're out on their own, I want us to enjoy some quality time together, so we go to our favorite nail salon to get pedicures every once in a while or out to lunch at our favorite café. We're creating memories I can hold on to when they're grown and gone.

Meanwhile, I've tried to impart the same kind of financial wisdom to my girls that my parents gave me. Any cash from odd jobs or babysitting has gone into their college funds. And they donated the profits from their lemonade stands and bake sales to a charity of their choice.

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As I watched my mother put her cereal boxes into the cart, I wanted to thank her. I even wanted to hug her for all the lessons she and my dad taught us about money, and how to save it and spend it wisely. I just hope someday when my daughters are with me, shopping for Cheerios (which I hope will still be on sale), they'll feel the same way.

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