Do you ever wake up in the wee hours of the morning, reaching around like a blind mouse, grabbing some clothes and getting ready in the dark? Only to come out of the room wearing pink leggings, your husband’s brown polo shirt…and yellow socks.
It’s ok. It happens, I’m not judging.
That’s how life goes sometimes. We navigate through our days, sometimes aimlessly in the dark and other times with a clear vision of the destination.
Having a good financial plan for your family is one of the most important ways you can show them your love. It gives you a clear vision of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.
It also gives your family a sense of security and peace of mind. Without a financial plan in place, things can end up pretty messy, especially when there’s an emergency or tragic event.
Why do you need a financial plan?
It’s kind of like building a house. You can’t build a house without a plan. You might end up building a kitchen when it was supposed to be the living room. Or you have a bathroom where the only way to get to it is through a hallway that goes through a bedroom.
Having a good financial plan allows your family to build the right things at the right time ensuring financial stability, protection, and growth.
Build a solid foundation first, proper protections next, then a plan to allow your family to thrive and flourish.
When should you create a financial plan?
NOW. If you don’t have a financial plan in place, there’s no better time to start creating a financial plan than today.
You don’t have to wait until you’re just about to retire or when the kids are about to go to college. By then you’ll wish you started sooner.
This doesn’t mean that once you set up your plan, that it’s final. You can always revisit and revise. In fact, that’s the smart thing to do.
What’s in a financial plan?
1. A Will
No one likes to talk about leaving your loved ones. It can be sad to think about, but it’s a reality that we will have to face whether we like it or not. Death is a natural part of life.
Protect your children
If you’re married and you have kids, the will is THE NUMBER ONE thing you will want to have done. Right away!
According to a 2017 study done by Caring.com, only 42% of adults in the U.S. have a will or a living trust, and only 36% of adults with children have one.
If anything tragic happens to both parents, children are appointed a legal guardian by the state courts. They will give guardianship to the closest relative such as a grandparent, aunty or uncle.
Do you really want the courts to decide? What if your kids are given to someone who you don’t want raising them? Someone who doesn’t align with your values or beliefs.
Your will puts YOU in control of who will take care of your children if something happened.
Protect your assets
Just like your children, if you die without a will, your assets (including your house and financial accounts) will be distributed by and according to the laws of your state.
You ever drive down the same street only to avoid the same pothole over and over for weeks… months? Imagine how the state will handle your assets if they got a hold of them. Who knows how long before it’s given to your loved ones or if it’s given at all!
Protect the assets you’ve worked so hard to earn and save with a will. Remember that each person will need their own will.
2. Power of Attorney – Health and Financial
If you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your health or finances, someone will need to make those decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney or POA is where you appoint this person.
You have the control NOW to appoint a trustworthy person who will follow the directives set in your POA in the event you’re incapable.
Just like with a lack of a will, without a POA, the courts will appoint someone to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf.
It sounds like a bad idea and family drama waiting to happen. You can prevent that by having a Power of Attorney.
3. Life Insurance
If you have debt, liabilities (a house with a mortgage), or kids going to college, this is probably the next best gift you can give to your family.
If your husband was to pass, of course you’ll have to deal with the grief and the loss, but at least you won’t have to stress about if you’ll have enough money to put food on the table or if you’ll be able to keep the house.
Get life insurance for each of you equal to about ten times your annual salary. I.e. if you make $50,000/year, you should get a term life insurance plan of $500,000.
If either of you stay at home with the kids, account for the economic value it provides. How much are you saving in childcare and other household expenses with a stay at home parent? How much will your family need to cover your debts?
A budget is a plan telling your money where it should go and how it should act. Think of your budget as a sub-section of your bigger financial plan.
There are different types of budgets, but the most common one is a monthly budget. In every budget, you want to make sure you spend less than you make. And you want to make sure you account for the most important things first – food, shelter, clothes, and transportation.
5. Other insurance
Insurance protects you and your assets if anything happens, i.e. your house gets flooded or your car gets totaled. It protects you from risk. Get insurance for your most important assets:
- Home owner’s or Renters – protects your belongings in the home
- Flood or hurricane
6. Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is your own personal insurance against the risk of events like your car has a mechanical breakdown or your washing machine breaks. Set some money aside in a separate savings account (at least $1000) and keep track of it as a part of your financial plan.
7. Get out of debt plan – i.e. Debt Snowball
If you’re still paying off debt, include a written (or digital) debt snowball in your financial plan. Figure out your total debt payoff and your payoff date. Keep track of your debt payoff progress and make sure you are on track to be debt free by your payoff date.
Remember when your mom told you to sweep the living room? Wasn’t it easier to just sweep the dust under the rug or the couch? Technically, the living room was swept and it looked clean, but it really wasn’t.
Let’s make sure that when we’re cleaning the house, and paying our debts, that we’re actually paying them down AND paying them off. Otherwise, we’ll be paying the banks for the rest of our lives.
Sweep it out of your house!
8. Other plans – save, build wealth, be generous
We’ve got the foundations and structure planned out, we’ll need to do some cleaning, now we can plan for the upgrades.
Saving can include saving for a home, renovations, a vacation, or kids’ college. Whatever you set your heart on saving for, include saving as a part of your financial plan.
Building wealth is another part of your financial plan. It might already be built into your employment, but if you don’t have anything set in place (and you’re out of debt), you’ll want to sit down with a financial advisor and create a retirement plan and/or an investment plan.
Once you have a plan to save and build wealth, it’s time to make a plan to be generous. We all have the capacity in our hearts to give, now you can make it an official part of your financial plan.
- Who you will give to
- How much and
- How often
Put your generosity plan on paper and include it in your financial plan.
Putting it all together
Pick a month that you’ll work on (or review) your financial plan.
Once you have all the documents, be sure to store them together in a safe place like a file cabinet. You may opt to store your original wills and power of attorneys in a safe deposit box at your local bank or credit union.
A Financial Plan that Gives Peace
You have a plan, now you’re ready to build. Seeing the plans of your house is such an exciting time of your life! It brings a sense of security and accomplishment. It makes you confident to live out your life to the fullest.
You can imagine your family having breakfast in your new kitchen with that fresh smell of new paint. You can rest assured that your house won’t buckle because it was well planned and laid out with a solid foundation. You told your kids to sweep the living room, and now you can walk in it with peace… and your yellow socks.