How many families do you know that have taken the time and made the commitment to understand money? Very few because most have not even agreed upon what is important to then in regards to money. Most families have taken more time to plan the weekend barbeque, a child’s birthday party or their annual vacations then they have to prepare for their financial future.
Couples should take the time to create their own personal List of Family Money Values. This is something that should be done together and should be in writing. Studies have shown when people put their goals and plans in writing; they are significantly more likely to succeed.
Once complete the List of Family Money Values is our foundation. This is where we turn when we are going to make money decision. The list will be a varied as there are groups of people. Some sample statements are:
1. We have been helped by others financially so we want to help others financially. Giving back is important to us.
2. We want to be debt free as much as possible. We first want to look at options to save to acquire things rather than borrow to acquire things.
3. We want to pass on our values about money to our children and grandchildren. Part of our legacy will be to help our heirs put money in its proper perspective.
The couple should then divide their money into 4 departments. I use a simple page divided into 4 sections by drawing a cross. Label each section as follows:
1. Donating
2. Saving
3. Investing
4. Spending
I would put them in order of importance to the family. I would encourage them to put Spending last on the list. This will help the family live within their means. Put in each section how much is going into each. How balanced are the sections? Are the family dollars being allocated according to their importance? Are the dollars being spent with an eye towards tomorrow or just today?