Every year brings a new opportunity to improve your financial standing, especially if you’ve got family.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned after getting married and having kids is that things can get fiscally complex really quickly and without some sort of plan it’ll get out of hand before you know it.
Consequently, building out a simple financial plan is paramount. In fact, sometimes the simple act of creating a plan can fundamentally shift your progress and build momentum.
I highlighted the word simple because I do not believe you need a complex system or plan for a complex problem. In other words, the more simple the plan is the better (at least to start) as you can always make the plan more intricate and complex as you massage it out.
For our family, we have a simple document that has the following four areas:
- Title Page with image of family, date stamped.
- A Summary Page with an overview, an objective, a solution, and some actual goals that we’re shooting for.
- Budget Page that we’ll continue to add, subtract, and massage as we refine our approach and fill it in with actual numbers.
- Action Plan to detail how we’ll get it done.
Again, this might actually be over-engineered a bit but it feels about right for what we’re trying to do. I can’t stress this point enough: Keep it simple.
A few things of note:
- We’re a spiritual family with principles that we’ve gathered and adopted from our spiritually-minded leaders and the Bible. This isn’t for everyone but we’ve found that these overarching ideals help us navigate our thoughts and give us healthy reminders about wealth, prosperity, saving, and spending.
- I’ve written and created this document with an intent to share them not just with my spouse and partner but also with my kids. I want to ensure that I’m modeling good and proper thought when it comes to financial planning and management. I have no idea where they will eventually end up but I hope that they are good financial managers regardless of how much wealth they may have or have access to.
- Moving to San Francisco was a significant event for us and this city forces to to recalibrate financial saving and spending in a serious way. The timing for us couldn’t be more perfect.
- Attacking this like I would a business project is important for me. Financial planning is something everyone agrees is important but few of us actually prioritize and put down on paper in an explicit way. Working through this process in this way helps me not just prioritize it but also classifies it as something that is as important as the business projects and companies that I work with and for. It seems obvious but it’s not, at least for me.
- Using online tools, like Mint.com are powerful and important but I can become overly dependent on them and without a document like this to create a framework of thinking I can quickly lose sight of why I’m doing it.
- The weekly conversations with my spouse weekly creates accountability and buy-in that’s necessary for us to succeed. This is probably the most important factor out of any factors accounted for. I spend part of Friday tidying up the budget, adjusting figures, and categorizing items and Friday evening is spent reviewing my work with my spouse.
I believe that the financial health of my family directly impacts my overall health as a person and also impacts the work that I do for others. This inter-connectedness is an important thing for me to note, realize, and act upon.
I mean, I’ve lived through it many times (and you may have as well). You see, there have been times in my life where my financial situation was so insane that my physical health was impacted (not to mention my emotional and psychological health). Depression and anxiety are constant battles in my life and I have to do everything I can to combat these proactively.
Here are the template files that I’ve created that you can use for yourself and your family. I hope you find them useful and I hope you actually use them!
Love to hear from you and if you have any additional thoughts! Ping me on Twitter: @8BIT