Two Money Tips for Busy Families
Times have changed since I was a kid. I remember being busy with sports, homework, church, and a part time job when I could squeeze it in. And now that I think about it, I probably haven’t thanked my parents for running me to and from all those activities over the years. (Thanks Dan and Lisa.) That being said, I am certain that parents and kids these days are much busier than we were back in the good ol’ days.
One of the pitfalls of being so busy is that a year or two can go by in a flash. Am I right? So I thought I would give you two quick wealth management tips to think about if you also participate in a crazy-paced life.
- Take one hour each month to direct your dollars. One of the biggest reasons people don’t have a concrete monthly spending/saving plan is “not having enough time to actually sit down and do it.” But think about this: how many hours each week do you and your spouse dedicate to “bringing home the bacon?” Quite a few, I bet. We spend a LOT of time working hard to make money to provide for our families. With all that time we spend making money, doesn’t it make sense to be in charge of those dollars instead of just hoping that they will automatically allocate themselves efficiently?
For example, of all the hours I work in a week, the most important hour BY FAR is the hour I take on Friday afternoon to plan out my following week and make sure everything is set up properly. If I don’t take this hour, I find myself scrambling throughout the week, reacting and trying to get caught up. The same thing goes with your money. If you build a proper financial plan, you are far more likely to arrive at your goal simply because it was clearly defined and you had an understanding of how to get there. Don’t be one of those people that say, “I should have done this ten years ago.”
- Try to focus on ONE financial task at a time. My mom used to tell me that I had “too many irons in the fire.” She was saying I had a tendency to spread myself too thin because I had so many activities going on simultaneously. If that was true when I was 17, then it’s beyond true now that I have a family. We only have one kid right now and life feels crazy, so I can’t imagine what it will be like with three or four mini-me’s running around. I am sure at that point I will need a sizable bonfire to accommodate as many “irons” as those years will require of me.
With so many variables of life simultaneously occurring all around us, it’s easy to think that “managing multiple irons” is the best way to handle our financial matters as well: do a lot of things at once. While statistically this might make the most numerical sense for us at times, in reality it often keeps us from ever making the portfolio strides we would hope for. I find that when people intensely focus on one financial matter at a time, they are more likely to achieve it.
For instance, a lot of people will pay a monthly car payment and contribute towards their 401(k) or IRAs at the same time. Even though that may work for you, I am a big fan of first aggressively eliminating your debt as quickly as you can. Then with no debt payments draining your monthly income, your greatest wealth building tool (your income) can be freed up to establish a nice cash emergency fund to help keep you from ever having to go back into debt. And then you can allocate towards your investments next. One step at a time. I know this sounds really simple and goes against what a Visa commercial might tell you, but I have seen it work very well with lots of folks.
One of my favorite quotes is, “If you aim at nothing, you are likely to achieve it.” My experience is that people with a plan are more likely to reach their goals. And for how much we value our paychecks, you would think we would all take a little more time to have some concrete plans for those dollars. Hopefully 2013 will be your year to solidify your financial track. Make up your mind that you will be more educated and disciplined with your finances than ever before. I hear a lot of things in my job every day, but I have never heard someone say, “Matt, I wish I would have waited longer to get good with my money.” ©2013
Matt Atchison is a Financial Advisor with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at email@example.com (402) 597-9229 13321 California Street, Suite 320 Omaha, NE 68154. Any opinions are those of Matt Atchison and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.