Many aspects of parenting can leave us feeling exhausted and stretched too thin. The days, while filled with precious memories, many laughs, and so much love are also exhausting, tense and sometimes pretty long. I also believe the stakes are high. I see parenting as a calling. We’re not merely babysitting children. We are raising the next generation of leaders, businessmen and women, mothers, and fathers.
Sometimes I feel the responsibility of parenting is overwhelming. Can you relate? Personally, my children are now 12 years old and 7 years old. My husband and I are really enjoying this stage of life with our kids. However, it’s very busy. The late Barbara Bush said it so well, “The days are long but the years are short.”
My kids now attend two different schools located on opposite sides of town. They’re also involved in extracurricular activities. My daughter plays basketball, rides horses, and loves theatre. My son loves both basketball and baseball. They also have homework after school and we make time for a family dinner each night. These activities are all positive. However, as their mother, sometimes I feel stretched very thin.
Another stressor on the list for parents – regardless of the age of their children, activities they are involved in, or stage of parenting – is financial stress. From budgeting for everyday necessities, school activities, a vacation, to saving for college and retirement, parents are constantly feeling stretched too thin when it comes to financial planning and money issues.
Your encouragement for today is that there is good news. With a bit of careful planning, a commitment to a realistic budget and an automated saving plan, you can feel a bit of relief from the financial stress parenting can bring:
- Budget for daily life: Yes, you’ve probably heard this one before. How many times have you thought about creating a budget but haven’t taken the time to do it? If you have a realistic monthly budget that you actually commit to follow, it will allow you to live a more peaceful life from a financial standpoint. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a budget, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Please go to emilygstroud.com and enter your email address. I will then personally send you a detailed budget worksheet to your inbox. Simply fill in the blanks and then add and subtract. No more excuses!
- Get your kids in on the action: Do you feel like you’re constantly saying, “No!” to your kids while out shopping? I certainly have felt this way many times. I decided to turn the table on my kids. I got them involved in the process of creating a budget. If your kids understand that you’re committed to living within your means and following a monthly budget, they will start to understand that you have to make choices about how to spend your money every month. For example, if they want or need new tennis shoes, let them know how much you’re willing to spend before going shopping. If your child wants a pair of tennis shoes that costs more than what your family has budgeted for, explain to them that they will have to make a choice. They will have to supplement the additional expense with their own money, or simply choose a less expensive pair of shoes. The choice of which pair of shoes to buy becomes their responsibility. The best part is that you don’t have to constantly tell them, “No.” You will teach your child a life-long skill about budgeting and it will make shopping more fun for everyone!
- Plan ahead for vacations and travel: One big expense most people forget to include in their monthly budget is a family vacation. Most people don’t start thinking about a vacation until it’s time to start booking the trip. Instead, I recommend creating a separate savings account for vacations and travel expenses. By systematically adding a certain amount to a savings account each month, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a vacation when the time comes to enjoy it. Best of all, you won't have to go into debt to pay for your trip. Many people who don’t follow this plan enjoy a week at Disney World but spend the rest of the year trying to pay off their credit card. That will always take the fun and relaxation out of a vacation.
- Plan for college early: As parents, it’s never too early to start thinking about your children’s education. It’s important to research the best option for your family and your unique situation. As the holidays approach, be more mindful of how you spend your money this year. Consider encouraging grandparents, aunts, or uncles to contribute whatever amount they would normally spend on your child for a gift, to a college fund instead. The long-term benefits and gift of an education will last much longer than a new toy. For this particular saving goal, I recommend a529-college savings plan that offers tax-free growth and financial aid benefits. 529 plans may also be used to save and invest for K-12 tuition, in addition to college costs. Currently, there are two types of 529 plans: college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. You can research available options at https://www.savingforcollege.com/.
For more tips on planning for your financial future, pick up a copy of my book, “Faithful Finance: 10 Secrets to Move from Fearful Insecurity to Confident Control.” “Faithful Finance” is my practical guide, revealing ten life-changing secrets that work in every financial situation, for every income level, at every stage of life.