Gulf Coast Family's primary purpose is to encourage families along the Gulf Coast by providing worthwhile information that deals with family life right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Five Financial Success Strategies for Today’s Busy Moms
by Michael Watkins
Moms play a pivotal role in our country’s economic vitality and in the future of our society. Their contributions as employees, business owners, and even “mompreneurs” are a force to be reckoned with. They have worked hard for everything they have achieved; yet through it all, moms have remained the backbone of the family unit.
You would think that being a member of the most influential segment of the U.S. population would put moms in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, many moms today face growing demands on their time, which can unfortunately distract them from keeping themselves and their families on track financially. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The following five steps are designed to help moms in their journey to greater financial security.
Step #1: Be honest with yourself.
Take a good, hard look at where you and your family members spend money. Identify whether the expenditures are motivated by a short-term desire or a long-term goal. Adjust your budget and your spending pattern to reflect a vested interest in your financial future. Don’t get carried away with buying all the extra stuff that might seem important now, but won’t matter much to you down the road. Keep some fun money in your budget, however, so you and your family members don’t feel deprived.
Step #2: Manage your money – and your debt – wisely.
If you are overspending on your credit cards and end up paying the minimum balance each month, you should try to get your use of credit under control. It is critical that you have a good handle on both your budget and your credit score. Be sure to check out valuable consumer-oriented websites, such as http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/moneymatters/index.html from the Federal Trade Commission. It’s an excellent resource for those who are looking to manage money—and debt—for greater long-term financial security.
Step #3: Plan for the unexpected.
Recently, many Americans began to save more when they realized that job security was not something they could rely on. Others faced the harsh reality of trying to pay their bills with substantially less income (or none at all), thanks to a layoff or reduced work schedule. Do you have enough money stashed away for a rainy day? Standard financial advice dictates that you have at least six months’ worth of expenses saved in case of an emergency. It won’t take long if you set your mind to it and start saving right away. Start small if you have to, but start now.
Tip: Save a set amount from each paycheck to be earmarked for emergencies only. Set this money aside in an account separate from your checking, and think of it as a regular bill you must pay.
Step #4: Talk about the hard stuff.
It is never easy to have conversations about the possibility of future problems. But the unexpected can happen. Whether you are married, single, divorced, have children at home, care for aging parents or assist a disabled loved one, bringing up the subject of death or disability—or even divorce—can be painful. However, it is important that you think about these life events and how they would affect you or someone you love if they were to occur. Preparing for the unexpected is a good decision; it can help you to protect the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve.
Step #5: Start a family finances action plan.
With a to-do list a mile long, most families are struggling to keep all together. But despite busy schedules, it’s important to talk to your family about your finances and concerns. Consider setting aside an hour once a week—or every other week at the very least—to talk through your current expense issues, financial goals and savings plan. A weekly or bi-weekly check point can be a good way to start a healthy dialogue about your family’s financial goals. Consulting a knowledgeable local financial professional can also help you and your family stay on track financially.
When it comes to family finances, it’s not about luck; it’s about using your head. You can do it, mom!
Good Money Habits
A French writer, making fun of Ben Franklin, once sneeringly wrote that Franklin was the sort of person who would leave a bequest of money in his will, but with the provision that it was to be used only after it had collected interest for 500 years. Franklin read the satire and wrote back to the French writer, thanking him for a great idea. In his will, Franklin left 1,000 pounds sterling (approximately $4,444) to the city of Boston, on condition that the money be placed in a fund that would gather interest over a period of 200 years, with a provision that some of the money could be used after 100 years.
At the end of the first hundred years, in 1891, Franklin’s $4,444 had grown to approximately $400,000. The city took a little over $308,000 to build a school, and left $92,000 in the fund. When the fund was finally tapped in 1993, it was worth over $5 million.
Gulf Coast Family Publications - Encouraging families along the Gulf Coast in Pinellas County