Make a Plan, Stan

Money has never been more of a "thing" in my family's life than it is right now.  Over the last 25 years, our finances have gone from really tiny (newlyweds livin' on love) to non-existent (seminary days)….to even barely gettin' by (ministry livin').  But that's not the case these days.  Measuring our current money makin' abilities to our past blows our minds!

How did we live on such a small amount of moola with 3 kids?

We've always made it, somehow.  I believe that every family learns to alter their lifestyle to fit their income.  For us, we didn't lavish our kids with tons of expensive items.  They did not have all the latest "anythings" — video game consoles, clothing, toys, decorated bedrooms or special trips.  We just couldn't afford it!  We used coupons for favorite cereals (because, that was a big deal), we picked one special item on Christmas lists, we bargain shopped for 'must have' items and we didn't buy anything we didn't have to have.  I admit, visiting friends houses sometimes bothered us when the many choices of video games equaled more than what any kid really needed.

But….I'm glad we didn't have the money to blow on over-indulging our kids.  That kind of spoiling is oftentimes, irreversible.  Oh, listen to me.  I almost sound as though my kids aren't spoiled!  Haha!  Hehe!  Oh me oh my!  I crack me up!

They are spoiled!  But in all the best ways (and well, okay….some bad ways too!).

This past weekend, we sat down as a family and brainstormed about all of our futures.   Making money and spending money seem to be much easier than saving money.  For each of us, we needed a plan.  Hubby and I are facing the reality that retirement is closer than ever and all three kids (who are chipping away at college) are still pretty much on the parent payroll. 

Something has to give.

Our family is probably no different than most in that we're all trying to get ahead and make it in this world.  It's now that our kids need our support the most.  Each of them are at critical stages of life and if they can just hold on…..the future will be much brighter.  Remember struggling through college?  I hope so.  Everyone should struggle at least a little bit.  It makes the success so much sweeter!  Perhaps, that's why my hubby and I are so very grateful to not be poor like we were not so long ago.  The hard work & sacrifice remind us…..we did it!

But how long and how much should we give our young adult kids to make it?

We decided to approach the situation with a plan.  We gathered around the dining room table, handed out paper and pens….and (my hubby) gave out instructions: 

1.  Write 3-5 goals that you'd like to accomplish in 1 year.

2.  Write 3-5 goals that you'd like to accomplish in 5 years.

3.  Where do you see yourself in 1 year & 5 years?

4.  How can we (your parents) help?

5.  How can you reach each of your goals?

2014-08-17 14.35.14

After everyone scribbled down their biggest dreams and wishes we discussed it all over fancy bottled cokes and icecream.  You know, a sort of salve for the burn thing.  It's not easy to sit down and plan your future.  It opens up the possibility that something could go wrong and that failure is a real and dangerous option.  Success takes work and commitment.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Planning is one of the best ways to put your future & finances into gear.  Otherwise, most of us end up spinning our wheels and making foolish decisions on just about every level.  For us, we really want to be able to retire…some sweet day.  The rough path we chose (so long ago) didn't lend itself to preparing FINANCIALLY for that to ever happen.  As it stands, my hubby will die working!

That's not what we want but that's our real life truth.

The meeting went well.  Even after my hubby handed out everyone's thick stack of bank account records with markers to check off NEEDS vs. WANTS.  The groans, excuses and the tears sounded eerily like the same ones hubby and I have moaned a million times after looking at our accounts.  There's a guaranteed stinger in facing your money demons.  Seeing your spending on paper……is like a slap in the face.  Ouch!

As I listened to each person reading their goals, I felt so inspired!  Every person had serious and attainable wishes listed and even had a plan as to how to get there.  My worries before the meeting were that everyone would be "stuck" without any idea of how to move forward.  They proved me wrong and encouraged me when I had big plans to be THE ONE DOING THE INSPIRING in the first place. 

Will our planning work?

I don't know.  The future is ours to see.  All I can do is stick to my commitment and hold the rest of my people to theirs.  The days are flashing by and the money it takes to live them….very tight.  If each of us do our part, success will be our biggest reward. 

What's your biggest goal for yourself in the next year ?  What about five years ?

Make a plan, Stan!  Then, stick with it!

Leave a Reply