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For many families, the challenges of 2020 put family finances in the spotlight. Even if you were able to keep working, changes in schooling left many families scrambling. As we come out of the pandemic, it may be time to review your family’s financial plan.
Study Needs Vs. Desires
Going minimal with children can be a serious challenge, but the ability to know the difference between a need and desire is something that parents can teach quite early. Careful monitoring of the marketing your children have to deal with every day is a good start. Television programs and the commercials included can encourage children to build an insatiable desire for items that simply aren’t healthy.
Focus on a mindset of enough. Snuggling in a chair with a parent and a library book is a great treat that costs little. From food to clothing to toys, having just enough is an extremely calm way to live. If relatives and friends are tempted to bury your children in toys and treats, you can talk about abundance and even excess.
Diversify Your Investments
From quarters to dollars to investment portfolios is actually a linear progression, particularly if you can, as a family, track your investments. From cryptocurrency to your investments in space venture capital, you can quickly build an investment mindset while your hard-earned dollars go out and make you more money.
Volatility is a chronic worry when investing your family’s income. If your crypto account has a big run up, the gain days will create euphoria while the drops will hurt, possibly a lot. To protect against volatility, make sure you also have some index funds that will turn slowly and protect your initial investments.
Teach Money Management
When your child starts to express the “I wants” of life, consider giving them an allowance. If the “I want” is junk food, consider requiring the child to pay for their own chips or candy. While it is your job to make sure your children aren’t hungry, it’s also your job to provide them with healthy options.
If your child chooses to spend their dollar on chips, go home and put a dollar in a clear jar where your child can see it. The concept of exchanging dollars for things is something that you can start quite early. If you can also link allowances to actions, such as taking veggie scraps to the compost or emptying the dishwasher, your child will have an easier time managing both their time and their paychecks when they’re older.
Build a Hearty Savings Account
As a family, try some fun financial challenges. You could schedule a “freekend” when you spend no money from Friday morning to Monday evening. Activities could include making a picnic lunch that you can enjoy at a park or a trip to the library or local museums on a free day. If you’re choosing to declutter a closet or a storage room and sell some things, let your children help you set up the photos for best effect.
As you avoid spending as a family, set up a chart to help you and your family track your savings. Perhaps you have a goal of buying an affordable home that you can customize to your needs. Talk to your children about having their own bedroom, or having a yard for a dog. Tangible goals make the work of saving easier for everyone.
Focus on Experiences
It’s often said that experiences give more pleasure than things. If meeting the basic needs of life has been a struggle, it may have been pretty hard to focus on positive experiences. Even without traveling, however, your time together and experiences as a family can still give great joy.
Not everyone can afford Disney, but perhaps you can take a family trip to the county fair. Post a picture of your favorite carousel image on the refrigerator where all can see it and create a savings jar for spare change and loose bills. When the fair rolls around, you’ll be ready.
The ability to save up for what you want is a skill that will benefit your children through their whole lives. The “I want” culture can easily lead to a life of constant dissatisfaction as there’s always something better out there. Track your comfort level and don’t skimp on what counts.