How to Financially Prepare for Your Family’s Future

by Vincent King · 5 comments

College, school clothes, toys, electronics — everything adds up when it comes to providing your children with their best possible future. What are you doing to give them the life they deserve?

Our Paycheck-to-Paycheck Society

Thanks to the wretched state of the present economy, much of our society is living paycheck-to-paycheck. Once upon a time, our parents scrimped and saved to stash all they could for their children — even if they didn’t have enough money to buy themselves the things they needed most. They’d gladly go without in order to provide for us, putting away the money required to safeguard our futures.

Thanks to the “freedom” of credit, we now spend every cent, digging ourselves a hole that will take years, if not decades, to crawl out from.

Spending beyond our means has become a time-honored American pastime. We spend money on anything from daily stops at the convenience store for sodas — because we work hard and deserve it — to buying cars because the commercials make it easy for us to imagine sitting in the driver’s seat with the wind in our hair.

The daily stress of work, school, and family responsibilities drives us to look outside ourselves to find the instant gratification that helps us feel whole. This is a habit that can destroy our wallets, rather than massage our psyches.

We believe that if we spend money on movies, we’ll feel better. Buying a new car will help us love our job. Yet, this is erroneous. Our quest for happiness drives our financial decisions, both for ourselves and our future families — often right into the ground.

What Are You Passing on to Your Kids?

The worst part about this lifestyle is that we pass it on to our kids. How can we teach our children to discern the difference between need and want if we’re unable to do so ourselves? Our children look to our example, expecting us to show them the best possible financial road. If we detour from it, they’ll never learn life’s most valuable monetary lessons — at least not from us.

You don’t want your children to believe it’s acceptable to go around spending money you don’t have. It’s important for them to understand how buying behavior impacts your bank account.

When children don’t understand how daily decisions affect their wallets, they won’t learn how those decisions affect their emotional state. We know how difficult this can be for us, but kids can’t necessarily see our internal struggles each time we pull out the credit card, nor do we want them to.

7 Steps to Recovery

1. Focus on what you have

Use quiet moments each day to sit with yourself and reflect on the things you have so that you can grow more aware. This will help you to stop looking outside yourself for gratification.

2. Budget

Take the time to sit and articulate accurate budgets. This will help you learn to live within your means. Funds that are left over after paying bills can be set aside for savings.

3. Cherish those moments when you do have extra money

When you learn to value money for what it really means to you, it’ll be easier to keep it close. You can then budget for affordable entertainment on a regular basis, rather than restricting yourself.

4. Learn the difference between needs and wants

If you don’t HAVE to have a new sweatshirt with your favorite team plastered across the front, then don’t buy it. Essentials are always more important.

5. Teach your kids about money

Then use the lessons you want them to learn most as a springboard for your own financial life lessons.

6. Take a long, hard look at your habits

Then trade them off one-by-one. If you’re bad about budgeting, then get better. If you’re bad at looking for instant gratification through shopping, find another way to satisfy that need — maybe by taking a trip to the park, a walk around the block, or spending quality time with your family.

7. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t have the money to buy the things you want

Consistently stick to your budget and you’ll eventually climb out from under the mountain of debt. (Here are some ways to help you get out of debt even faster.) But even better, you’ll be able to teach your children from experience that it can be done — even if it’s better to avoid having to do it at all.

What will you do to better yourself financially for your children?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Robert Connor says:

    Getting my better half to slow down on spending and think about the future is not easy. We have a lot of sticks in the fire-but could alway step up our future money power!

  • Walt says:

    Very nice article Vincent, this keeps me focus on my financial goals in life. You are right we should explain to our children the basic of personal finance and frugal living not only for our life but for their own adult life.

    Our kids is one of the reasons we should get out of rat race and achieve our financial success while they are still young.

  • Robin Uram @Quizzle says:

    Love the paycheck to paycheck. So true for the lifestyle of today. So many are struggling with budget and credit issues from over spending. Thankfully with great blogs like this they can get on track!

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More says:

    I don’t have kids yet but I will be purchasing life insurance and save up a baby fund to help us out in the beginning. I will likely also start saving for part or all of their future college bill dependning on how much we decide we want to pay.

  • William @ Drop Dead Money says:

    Very good! I’m puzzled by one thing, though. You mention our parents’ wisdom and how we somehow are not doing the same good things anymore. How did that happen? Could it be that the next generation will see the difference and opt for a more responsible way of life? I don’t know the answers, but I’m curious.

    Other than ballooning student debt, we’re seeing the country come out of debt to some degree. Is that a portend of things to come? One can only hope so…

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