Some of my favourite memories are of the period when we had a young family. But I remember that it was also the most stressful time. There were so many things competing for my attention and our resources were limited. I considered us to be fortunate in that we had two incomes and both sets of grandparents to help out. My work over the years has taught me that this is often not the case for many young families. It was when I was assessing the education subsidies program that I saw the myriad of ways with which families handled their finances. Our priorities might be different, but one thing was consistent, we all had a lot going on.
Firstly, everyone needs a backstop. As soon as the kids were born my safety net became $5,000. My wife had a $1,000 stash (I always knew when we were approaching this figure).
Easy to say, hard to maintain ,but I found whenever I was negotiating a refinance this buffer was there. I always had backups as well, such as the Welfare Fund safety net and life insurance that could be cashed in and plenty of annual leave.
"So whatever you call it, saving, stashing or a rainy day fund. Everyone needs a contingency plan."
Next, its important to focus on living within your means during this period. Life is made up of stages. Each of us will have a different experience during each stage, based on our own priorities and choices, some people have children before their career kicks off, some don’t want a career, others don't want kids, and some of us want to travel first. That doesn’t mean we are not tempted to look over the fence to assess the shade of green of the neighbour’s lawn. The point is people's finances don't develop in unison. I recall a friend who purchased a television for thousands, while I was in awe that our Dick Smith special was still going ten years on. The point is a TV may be a priority but for some, but for us it was the kids. and we were happy to save where we could for them. Use a cheaper cut of meat and be able to support them in extra activities and see them develop into fine young adults. Through this period I learnt why certain fast food restaurants were so popular, combining a meal and children’s play area meant as parents we had some much needed respite, in the form of coffee and chat time, and this was priceless.
We all make choices that best suit our lives and our families. When planning for you and yours its important to remember that not one size fits all. So its good to talk to a professional, and work out what might be right for you. The Fair Wealth team can help you no matter what stage you are at. Members receive a free annual financial check.