There’s something I wish we’d done ever since we had kids. I really wish we’d been raising our finances with the same care and attention that we’ve been raising our kids. Our money kid would have been doted on, nurtured and growing up beautifully.
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Instead, we’ve been terribly neglectful. Our finances have pretty much been left to raise themselves. So picture our money kid: lonely and stunted, begging the world for a different set of parents.
Here’s how I think we can start being better parents to our money. It deserves our love and attention.
How to raise your finances like an extra child
1. Prepare it for the future
That’s the thing about raising kids: we’re not just caring for them on the daily, we’re caring about their future too. Money should be no different. It’s not just about being careful with how you spend it today, it’s just as important to consider how it will be making you feel in future. A good investment adviser like Stockspot can help you invest your money wisely, helping it reach its full potential. And, of course, that means you’ll be taking care of your actual children’s future as well.
You can picture our money kid: lonely and stunted, begging the world for a different set of parents.
2. Check in with it daily
Imagine not lavishing the love on your kids every day. Never ever going to happen. Our money kid should be feeling just as cared for. A quick daily check-in should do the trick (if only parenting the kids was that simple!): make sure you’ve only spent what you think you’ve spent; put any tax receipts into your tax receipt box (you have one of those, right?); give your investment portfolio a once over; at the end of each day, put your leftover $2 coins into a 600ml soft drink bottle and you’ll have $880 once it’s full. Seriously.
Speaking of habits: A quick guide to developing good daily habits for kids
3. Give it an annual health check up
A daily check-in is great, but it can’t take the place of a proper yearly health check. For our money kid, that means giving it an annual booster shot. This might be when you get your tax return, or a salary bonus, or maybe you save a little each week to put a good cash injection into your investment account. You could also rethink any cash sitting in a ‘high interest’ savings account, because it could probably be put to better use. Putting your money into an online investment account could earn you a lot more as the kids grow (and your money kid grows too!).
4. Think before you punish it
We give such a lot of thought to how we raise the kids (I’m pretty sure I give way too much thought!), but hardly any to what we spend our money on. It’s so important that we consider the ‘why’ every time we get our wallet out. Especially if we have some big goals we are saving for. If we spend without thought, we are simply never going to reach those goals. Three little rules we live by that might help are:
1. Don’t buy clutter – I used to spend my life organising, until I realised that the best way to keep organised was to not buy the things in the first place. Now I ask myself, “Do I really need a new X?” every time I want to buy something. The answer is usually no.
2. Tend and mend – it’s a bit too easy in this disposable world to throw things out, rather than mend them. These days I try to take better care of the things I own, rather than simply buy something new all the time. There’s a weird kind of pride in owning something old.
3. Slow, not fast – For so many reasons, I’m completely over fast fashion, both for clothes and homewares. Instead, I’m working on finding my own style and carefully curating a look that suits me perfectly. That way, I feel so utterly at home in my clothes and living spaces that I don’t ever want to change them. Let me tell you, it’s saving me megabucks. Especially as my kids are starting to come around to my old-school philosophy.
5. Grow it over time
Our kids aren’t babies one day and fully-fledged adults the next, and it’s the same for our money kid. What we do today impacts tomorrow and tomorrow impacts the day after and so it goes. This is why getting sound financial advice is so critical. You need a plan tailored to you that you can slowly build on. There are no quick fixes with kids, and none with money either. The earlier we start investing, the sooner we take advantage of compounding and reinvesting.
More on this on Stockspot’s website: Why is financial advice important?
6. Take action to help it find happiness
When asked what we want for our kids’ future, most of us would say, “I want them to be happy.” Which is a wonderful goal, but what and how? What does ‘happy’ actually look like and how will we help them get there? ‘Happy’ is the goal, but there are so many actions that need to take place in order for our kids to know it and feel it.
Have a dream, make a plan, and take action to make it happen.
The same is true of money: if we don’t take action, we simply won’t reach our end goal. For me, having a secure financial future is a very important part of being happy, so I am putting things in place now (and teaching my kids) to make sure that the future looks bright. We can dream all we want about a happy future for ourselves and our kids, but unless we take steps today to make it happen, it’s probable that it won’t. Have a dream, make a plan, and take action to make it happen.
If we do all that, it’s very reassuring to know that our money kids will grow up to one day take care of our real kids.
How’s your money kid doing?
Image by Sharon McCutcheon