Mommy Money Worries

Patti Black is a Certified Financial Planner and BirminghamMom of twins who advises high net worth individuals. She has some practical advice for rest of us as well.

It’s no surprise that moms of average means are having to carefully budget and allocate resources during these economic times. Patti says even her wealthy clients have to make thoughtful choices in light of their overall financial goals. It just goes to show that, no matter your situation, you have to be attuned to your personal values and objectives in order to ensure your long-term success. Here’s Patti:

It feels like everyone is talking about money these days. But it’s not the money excess we’ve seen in the past when conversations were about where a friend got her new pair of premium jeans! The conversations today are about clipping coupons and worrying about who is next to lose a job. We’re worried about whether we have “enough” – enough to send our children to college, enough to retire, enough to pay for a kitchen remodel, enough some months even to pay bills.

Almost regardless of the number of zeros at the end of your net worth, people are worried. So, what can you do about all these worries? First, identify what your real fear is. You may be upset that the balance on your investment account statement has been decreasing instead of increasing, but what is the true issue? Is it that your children won’t go to college? Or that you’ll have to work until you die?

Once you’ve identified your fears, prioritize them by what is likely to happen soon, what may happen in the future, and what is unlikely to happen. Then decide what action you can take now to address the fears that are likely to happen. Even baby steps will help reduce your stress level. However, just as there are no secrets to losing weight (you have to do the hard work of burning more calories than you consume) there are no “get rich quick tricks” to “having enough.”

The answer is boring and the work is hard: you have to save more than you spend. This process requires sacrifice in the short term to get to a long-term goal. It is also very personal. The choices I make to reduce spending will be different than the ones you will make. For example, I’m willing to shop at consignment stores as long as I can still get my hair cut and highlighted at the same salon!

But, sometimes these sacrifices are larger than giving up your hairdresser or your premium jeans. Sometimes you decide to give up the big stuff. You may need to downsize the house, downgrade the car, or eliminate the club membership to get where you want to be in the future (or maybe just to sleep better at night right now). During this process, you may also realize that you’ve been teaching your children some unintended financial lessons. If you tell your children the importance of giving to the poor, but yet your budget doesn’t allow you to do so, what are your children learning? Are they paying more attention to your words or to your action?

It’s time to reevaluate priorities and focus on what really matters to you and to your family. The good news is that there’s no better time to have these conversations and make these decisions. Being smart with your money has never been so fashionable!

Any views or opinions are solely those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent those of Charles D. Haines, LLC.

View Patti’s previous article on college savings.