This article first appeared in Impact ADHD’s Hall of Experts in September. Go there to enjoy many more articles on parenting and ADHD.
As parents, you wear so many hats –leader, teacher, counselor, disciplinarian, playmate and confidant. In your busy, stressful and sometimes overwhelming parent job, there is an important role that often goes unnoticed – Financial Manager.
You know that money is not the most important thing in the world – your kids and the family’s health top that list. Money does, however touch everything that is important in your life. When there are money problems, everything else feels harder. How you manage your money impacts on relationships in the family, choices you have available to you and the way your family makes decisions.
As Financial Managers, you are responsible for how your money flows through your household. In the chaos of a busy family, financial decisions are often made in the moment, based on the crisis of the day. Just getting the bills paid and the groceries purchased can seem like a monumental task.
Confidently wearing the Financial Manager hat in your family can make many of the challenges you face easier to deal with and will allow you to take advantage of opportunities with confidence as they arise.
Become a Super Star Financial Manager
There are three main challenges that families face. Creating solutions to these challenges makes the finances easier. Taking action on those solutions can change your life.
1. We don’t talk about it
Many couples only talk about money when there is a crisis. Everyone gets tense when talking about money because the conversation is usually associated with upset, fights, stress and difficult, unfinished conversations.
Solution: Schedule Money Meetings. Create a framework for your money conversations and practice talking about money regularly, not just when there is a problem. Name your meetings something fun like Money Mondays or Wealthy Wednesdays and put them on the calendar. Have an agenda and set a timer so that each meeting has structure. Access a sample agenda for your money meeting here.
2. We don’t have a plan
Family finances can feel really complicated. There are expenses that are the same every month and some that vary. You have payments due monthly, quarterly and once in a while. When you try to run your whole money life from one account, it is like you are trying to hold all of that in your head. Think about how difficult it is to plan for the groceries for this wee, next week’s brownie fees, your tax bill that is due in three months, and the hockey fees due next December.
Create a Money Life Plan. One of the simplest ways to be on top of your spending is to separate your money into different accounts. This allows you to be very clear about what the money is for and how you choose to spend it.
Keep money that is needed to pay the Fixed Expenses and bills in one account and your Groceries, Gas and Family Fun spending in another. By separating these expenses will give you clarity, and it will ensure you don’t the mortgage payment at the grocery store or the movies.
One way to reduce expenses is to decide how much you want to spend on groceries, gas and family fun for the month. Transfer that amount to the new account and monitor your spending. When the account is getting close to empty, slow down or stop spending until the next month.
Use savings accounts to create virtual envelopes to save for longer-term expenses and goals. Transfer money into the account monthly so when the payment is due you have what you need.
3. We don’t know where anything is
Keeping on top of the bills due, the school trip forms, the annual payment notices and the camp application forms can feel daunting. It seems like there are reams of paper that come into the house. When there is no system to deal with all of the paper it can feel overwhelming. Bills get paid late and there is a mad scramble for the paperwork to get the kids into soccer on time.
Create a Money Spot. Choose a specific location in your home for all financial information to land when it comes into the house. Teach your spouse and the kids to put their items there to be dealt with. Try a three-tiered tray system or three baskets.
Basket 1 – All incoming financial information for sorting.
Basket 2 – Bills to Be Paid.
Basket 3 – Completed items to be filed.
Use this simple system to manage the flood of financial paperwork. When you sit down for your Money Meeting your papers will all be in one spot and you will be able to pay bills, discuss opportunities and make decisions. Collect the tools you need to manage your family finances: stapler, sticky notes, stamps, paper clips, and envelopes. Keep them handy at your Money Spot so you can complete your financial tasks in one sitting. Get instructions on how to create Your Money Spot and Your Money Files here.
You wear many parent hats; being a super star Financial Manager will have a massive impact on the rest of your life. Create a plan. Separate your expenses using different bank accounts. Use your Money Meetings to go through the papers in the baskets in your Money Spot. Talk about what is coming up and make decisions together.
Taking action on these three challenges and solutions will decrease stress, increase communication and make your money life work much better. Enjoy having more time and energy to focus on your other fantastic parent roles.
Loved these ideas? Want to talk about how to do more to make friends with your money? Set up a time to chat with Karen. www.schedulewithkaren.com