Do you struggle with that as well? It seems like every day there is something to pay for and save for, which is normal. I always wonder if I should save or spend? Or both? It seems to be a conflict because I have a desire to save for the future, and for my children’s futures, but I also have an inherent impulse to live for the present and enjoy the NOW. Not only enjoy the NOW, but I want to enjoy my hard-earned money NOW. It’s such a delicate subject. My father passed away suddenly when he was only in his 30’s, so I’ve grown up knowing that no one is promised a tomorrow. Yet, I also am hopeful for my future and for my children’s future, and I don’t want to live out my later years with limited choices. Or worse, no choices at all.
It seems like I have two different conflicting traits – that of prioritizing the future, and that of living in/for the moment. You see, if you have a plan for a financially secure future, you’re providing yourself with peace of mind and comfort – and that actually does provide instant value and gratification. Here are 5 ways your family can act NOW, to plan for a bright future.
1 – Understand your cash flow NOW. I think this is most important for my family to proceed – we have to understand what we spend now, to understand how to save for then. Analyze your current spending/saving patterns and habits as well. Isolate it in terms of what you spend a week, much less a month. Then you can catch things you may have or may spend too much on, and see the impacts of leaner weeks too. Sometimes it’s feast or famine here, but we meet somewhere in the middle.
2 – Limit your monthly bills NOW. When we bought our new car last year, we were bummed because we had JUST paid off our minivan and were in a sweet spot for a while, until the sedan broke down for good. As a two-car family, adding a new car payment was a no-brainer, but generally we have enough bills with mortgage, electricity, etc. We limit unnecessary bills.
3 – PLAN to be spontaneous. I know that sounds contradictory, but bear with me. It’s not about planning exactly what you might feel like doing two weeks from now, but it’s about leaving that possibility open. It’s about leaving wiggle room for your wild and crazy selves. Since tracking your spending so intensely can feel overwhelming, it helps to build in money that is purely for spontaneity. That way you can still be spontaneous WHEN you want to be, but with a built in cushion!
4 – Think of your financial status the way you would your health status. As in, take it seriously. The way your health needs regular check-ins and checkups, as well as maintenance, you will see how your planning/saving needs tweaking. And with your diligence, greater financial stability brings better overall health – financially and emotionally.
5 – Don’t do it alone. The world is different from when we were kids, and is changing quickly. We need to revisit our plans constantly, and make sure we’re on track. And things will change again! When making big decisions about your financial future, seek help tailored to YOUR family’s needs. MEFA’s U.Fund College Investing Plan, the Massachusetts 529 college savings plan, offers you control and flexibility as you save for your baby’s college education. You can open it up with $50 or as little as $15 if you set up automatic monthly payments. They can be used at any accredited college, and are managed by Fidelity Investments. It’s never too soon to start. Think of your short-term and long-term family goals.
Every day of every year, I’m stunned by the passage of time and the pull between enjoying my kids’ rapid development, and also wanting them to stay young and innocent longer! Luckily, we don’t have to go it alone. The The U.Fund College Investing Plan empowers us to make decisions about our family’s future, with resources available to help us better navigate this process.
We went to KidsFest at Wachusett Mountain last month and such a blast – testing our skills, eating delicious local food, and finding out more information about our future options at the U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent.
The U. Fund Dreams Tour takes place between May and October of 2017. My family attended U. Fund Dreams Tour events in 2016. 2017 has been no exception and we’re having a blast locally. The events have a large “U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent” filled with engaging discovery activities for kids to have fun with and connect. There are discovery activities intended to help parents better understand the challenges of saving for college, and they are also there to be fun and interactive for the kids. The U. Fund Dreams Tour is a fun and interactive chance to connect. It aims to bring awareness to the importance of saving for college, to offer viable solutions, and to help you on this journey of planning for the future.
MEFA’s U.Fund College Investing Plan, the Massachusetts 529 college-investing plan, is a tax-advantaged college savings plan managed by Fidelity. MEFA is a non-profit state authority that works to make higher education more accessible & affordable.