Stretch Money Goals, an Excerpt from Chapter Three: Money Issues, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book
My husband and I make plenty of money to support ourselves and our two young daughters in the style to which we’ve become accustomed. But it seems like the more we make, the more we spend, the richer our tastes. Is this normal? Any thoughts on what we could adjust?
Dear She, Congratulations to your family for both being marketable during trying economic times! You should also be commended for being self-aware enough to think about the deeper issues around money, how it addresses basic human needs, how it provides stimulation, comfort, empowerment, and many other things. Here are some thoughts on how you can work with your family to build alignment on money goals and objectives so that you can support the needs of all around money – personal, emotional, financial, spiritual.
1. As a family. come up with a minimal budget for basic needs. Depending on the ages and interests of your daughters, they may be recruited to manage some of the basic needs from clothes and food shopping to pet care. Knowing the costs of basic necessities and salary requirements will help all parties be more selective about discretionary spending and work choices.
2. There is a second level of need beyond the basic need, but one that the whole family finds important. It might be a summer vacation, private school, outside sports, etc. This is something that everyone agrees is very important, and something that you as a family should commit to.
3. This choice should also be fair for everyone in the family, so that there’s a minimal chance of resentment. Ideally, it would be an equitable, or perceived-equity investment in time and money for all parties.
4. Beyond this, there should be an open discussion about what’s important to each of you, and how important this is to everyone else. Costs and responsibilities should be allocated to each desire, and a conversation should be had about the circumstances of when the family as a whole can make this commitment.
5. Just as there is a conversation about out-go, there should be a conversation about income, and not just about income, but the career choices of the wage-earners. Depending on your personal comfort level, you could talk big-picture with the family in terms of corporate vs. entrepreneurial job choices, or to the nitty-gritty details about salary, bonuses, etc. But you and your spouse should be completely transparent and in agreement around job choices and career paths.
6. Budgeting and healthy financial choices will likely mean sacrifices at some level for all family members. Don’t feel the martyr for making a sacrifice – think of it as a choice you are making to support your family.
7. Even if you are financially able to do so, don’t choose a world where you and all your family members feel that you can have everything you want it, when you want it. You probably know families who make those choices, and it can’t bode well for their finances, or the choices their children make around money when they make their own.
8. Talk about how money can feed your long-term dream, and that of others in your family.
9. Learn from mistakes you may have made/are making around money choices.
10. Plan on a future where you will be financially free.
I hope that these thoughts will help you focus on stretching your money goals, and your thoughts around money overall.
Best of luck,