Financial Planning for a Healthy Financial Future
I hate Mondays.
I know, I know, everyone says they hate Mondays, but most of those people have a full-time work away from home job. Not that long ago, I was you.
I now hate Mondays for an entirely new reason, of my own making.
On Mondays, we talk about our finances.
How We Started a Financial Planning Talk Time
Let’s take a walk down memory lane for a second.
A while back, we realized that we were not taking the time to talk about or look at our finances on a regular basis. This was causing a lot of stress, including but not limited to-
- Excessive spending without a realistic idea of what was in our accounts
- Bills going unpaid for a few weeks too long
- Anxiety over the perceived state of our finances, based off of a general feeling that we weren’t doing so great, without actual facts to back it up.
One night, after another anxiety-filled evening of opening a mound of mail and paying bills online, my husband and I both decided we’d had enough.
We didn’t know the immediate answer to our problems, but tackling the insurmountable wall of procrastination was where we decided we had to start.
Financial Planning Problem Number One
We just frankly do not look at our finances often enough.
With that in mind, our first course of action was to implement Money Monday.
On Money Monday, anything that affects our financial health is fair game.
- Bills, Bills, Bills.
- Mounds of Mail.
- Insurance follow-ups.
- Checking our account balances.
It’s still not fun, but knowing that we are going to discuss it and look at everything, and have a more realistic picture of what we are dealing with is a great way to reset the beginning of each week. It also helps curb some of our unhealthy spending habits.
I’m probably the only one who shops to relieve stress. I am, aren’t I?
Of COURSE, I’m not!
I’m also completely guilty of buying something that feels like a ‘need’ but is absolutely NOT a need.
Financial Planning Problem Number Two
We have no budget.
We live on one income. Even if I worked a full-time job again, our income with daycare expenses would basically be a wash. Just between you and I, I’d rather be the one taking care of my kiddos, given the choice.
Not everyone has that choice – (I worked full time on odd shifts for nine years, so I’m right there with you. I completely understand how hard it is to be a full-time employee and feel like you are also giving your best to your family. It is SO HARD.)
The budget thing is still not past-tense. We NEED a budget.
We’ve tried and failed on multiple occasions to figure out what we’re spending, how much we have to spend, and how to keep things in check. Something is ALWAYS coming up.
Not a great excuse, I know.
No budget is just not working.
So I want to know, what do you use for budgeting?
What works for your family?
The truth is, we currently have the income we have. We have always made it by, but boy, it would be great to feel like we are thriving, not just surviving. At the very least, having some cushion for when the next thing inevitably breaks.
Which is at least a couple times a year? Or more if your three-year-old decides to blow up the microwave and start a fire thus rendering the microwave unusable. Just saying.
Things that are working, sort of.
- Nag-free money
- My spouse and I each get a little ‘allowance’ each week that is our nag-free money. I spend mine the way I want, you spend yours the way you want. This has been a great little trick for keeping marital harmony. New shirt? Yup, I’ve got the funds. New wardrobe? Probably need to keep saving.
- What’s not to like about the nag-free system? I think we are using too much of our budget on it. If we completely abolished this system and just had our general checking out, we would put back $480 into our general funds every month. This is the money that I use for clothes, haircuts, etc. Basically, this is for anything that’s not food or bills. So how do we better monitor the extraneous spending if we remove this system?
- Money Monday
- When we are consistent about Money Monday, we both feel the burden of our finances lifted. We are putting ourselves on the same page and we can better plan for the week ahead.
Time to Take Action on Your Financial Health
It is probably time for a moratorium on spending and it’s definitely time to implement a strict budget.
Spending stoppage starts today. Now.
Let’s set the budget goal for the end of the month.
Do You Need a “Money Monday”?
Is it time for you and your spouse to have the finances talk?
Do you blatantly ignore your financial health out of fear and anxiety?
You either have the finances in order and a working budget, or you don’t.
If you need to have “the talk”, sit down and have it. Figure out a regular time to talk about it so things get taken care of before they turn into a giant gnarly knot of stress in your stomach.
There’s nothing magical about it, (but if you know of any magical solution I’m all ears), and the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to be completely realistic and aware of what you’ve got.
It will not fix everything, but it’s the first step to having financial issues in hand, instead of completely out of control.
If this post was too stressful for you, might I suggest the Wry Parent’s Guide: Getting the Kids in the Car to relieve the tension.