When you are a parent, there are a lot of things to juggle on a daily basis. Part of the juggling act you have to master includes the regular tending of personal finance matters. Unfortunately for many families, there are two situations which are all too common in our fast-paced, busy lives…
Two Common Scenarios
- Scenario #1 – Too Busy To Sit -Many parents, especially those with multiple children, will get so wrapped up in day to day activities, they rarely feel they have time to sort out the bills.
- Scenario #2 – Finances Are One-Sided- Many families have only one half of the parental unit handling money matters while the other remains pretty much in the dark.
Finding the Solution
In Scenario #1, parents will often complain they ‘have no time’ to handle their money matters but in reality they are not making the time necessary to deal with the important stuff. Much like the health and welfare of their family members is important, so too is the financial health and well-being of the family. Parents need to carve out time each and every week to review their income, their expenses, and identify what goals they need to plan out for their savings. Simply letting one month fly past with no attention to money will hurt credit scores and likely incur more fees and penalties than they can reasonably afford to pay.
In Scenario #2, parents do not put up a united front when it comes to money issues. Either mom or dad is the chief engineer of all things finance and many arguments arise over money matters because one half of the couple has no idea what is going on. Ideally, it is in the best interest of the entire family to have both parents involved in the management of money, even if only one person is in charge of writing out the checks or logging in to accounts.
Why It Really Matters
There are a number of reasons why it matters so much for married couples to stay on top of their personal financial life, with some being more important than others. Here are some things to consider if you and your spouse have not been combining your efforts where money is concerned.
Your Kids Are Taking Notice
Everyone wants to raise well-rounded, smart kids. Unfortunately, the financial education kids in America get throughout their lifetime is limited to the people who are involved in their lives. Rarely is the educational system involved deeply in the teachings of personal finance – or if the school does teach about personal finance it is done on a limited basis. Even without a school education on money matters, kids still look to their parents first for examples of how to manage money. The younger you start teaching a child about important financial basics, the more likely they are to carry the lessons through adulthood. If kids see only mom or only dad dealing with the checkbook, they too might also grow up to feel family money is not their responsibility.
Your Family Is Losing Money
If you are not taking care of the bills before they become due or not managing money effectively enough to pay all the bills, you are harming the financial foundation of your family. There will never be enough money to go around or enough cash being saved to ensure a good future for the kids and parents alike. Instead of blowing hard-earned income on late fees and missed payment penalties, you could be allocating that cash into high-yield savings accounts or use it for eliminating more debt. By staying unorganized in your financial house, you are essentially throwing money right out of the window.
Your Couple’s Credit is Shot
When you are married, you likely share many joint accounts. Any wrongdoing within those accounts spells big trouble for you and your spouse. Missed and late payments are heavily reflected on your credit history and in your credit score. Continued misuse of credit can land you in big trouble with creditors and in the long-run you end up hurting your overall financial life because your credit score is not good enough to qualify you for additional lines of credit or other financing when you need it most. It may not seem like a big deal now but when your family car breaks down or your daughter needs braces, you may be hard-pressed to find the money you need to get you through without a lender. Plus, credit checks are now being conducted by everyone from employers to insurance companies. If you can’t pass the muster with your credit, you may be passed over for that job position or you’ll be likely to pay a much higher premium than other drivers for your vehicle insurance. At that point, looking into credit repair would be a great idea.
Even if you have not been working effectively together on your finances, there is no time like the present to start getting in gear to a better financial future. Start first by carving out an hour of your week when you have a little time to yourselves (e.g. – when the kids go to bed). Creating a budget is the first step you need to take and as you move through that process you will likely find a multitude of topics to discuss. You may be tired, yes – but once you and your spouse have discussed important money matters and started planning for a better tomorrow, you will likely find some renewed energy and motivation to continue on with better plans and a commitment to healthier finances.
Ed O’Brien is a seasoned writer with a strong background in business and personal finance. His blog, Credit Repair, offers free advice to those seeking ways to improve their credit scores.
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