There are so many things that create stress for the modern family. Between work, school and extra-curricular activities, schedules are booked solid. But time isn’t the only thing families sometimes struggle to manage. Running a busy family brings many expenses. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Managing money for your family isn’t easy, but with some effort, you can turn finances from a source of potential stress into a source of peace.
The first and greatest rule of managing the financial aspects of your family life is simple: it must be discussed in positive terms. The only sure fire way for money to become a source of great strain and stress is to never discuss it. But when you discuss money with kids, use some discretion. While you want to model financial responsibility, you don’t want them to feel anxious about financial matters.
Try to establish a monthly family budget meeting for parents. This will give you an opportunity to assess your current situation and make specific financial plans and goals for your family’s future. As you arrive at decisions that affect children, bring them up to speed when appropriate. And when transitions occur that change your family’s financial situation — new jobs, housing changes, paying for college, etc. — don’t wait until the next monthly meeting to address them.
Another important rule for family finances is to put everything on paper (or on a screen using budgeting software). Discussing ideas is great, but when you see a budget on paper, it’s easier to stick to the plan you create.
While you’re working on creating a positive financial situation for your family right now, keep in mind that your family and your financial needs will change in the future — and faster than you may think. Think through the next year, the next five years, the next decade and beyond. If you have a picture of what your family will look like in the future, you can put financial tools in place to make sure you can clear hurdles when they inevitably come.
Any family can benefit from improving their financial situation. If it’s bad, you can make it good. If it’s good, you can make it better. Spend some time thinking about your family’s financial life today.