Staying connected is imperative when it comes to matters of finance. Regular meetings help key parties feel ownership in decision-making, setbacks and victories. Planning sessions leave no stone unturned, no expense unaccounted for. If you vow to make one financial resolution this year, I urge you to get on the same page with your family. You decide when kids are old enough to participate, but make time for you and your partner to meet often and productively to ensure your chance of financial success in 2012.
Setting the stage
If you have reluctant attendees, sweeten the pot. Whip up a favorite treat or plan for family movie night to follow your meeting. But make sure that everyone is on board to discuss the state of your union and set financial goals for the year ahead. All parties should bring along a month’s worth of income and expense info as it will help tremendously.
Making a plan
By “plan” I mean “budget.” If you don’t work from one, this year is the year to start. Download and print the simple budget planner at Get Rich Slowly, and fill it out together. When you don’t know the answer to a section, don’t guess. Do the research required to determine the right answer. I’ve found that these areas typically result in the most surprise. You might think you only spend $500 per month on groceries, but you could easily be spending twice that.
Setting your goals
Once you have your budget in place and know what you’re dealing with, make a plan. Maybe you need to find areas to cut. Maybe you have more to work with than you thought, but should be allocating it to more sensible areas. Maybe you need to make the difficult decisions surrounding supplemental income or down-sizing. Whatever your situation, know that there is power in knowledge and action, but none when you’re in the dark. Now that you’re fully aware of your situation, set your goals, indicate who’s responsible for action items, and set the date for the next meeting. Then smile. You’re on your way financial freedom.
Molly Logan Anderson is a freelance writer who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Mike, three kids and two labs. Join Molly on her family’s journey of living a frugal life and making financial freedom their reality in her columns or visit her website at www.mollylogananderson.com or on her blog at www.butterfliesandmudpies.blogspot.com.