5 Ways Your Family Can Plan For The Future and Live in the Present

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Is it possible to enjoy the present, but also plan for the future? Of course! It just requires balance, and following these 5 smart tips. #ad #UFundDreams

One thing I’ve struggled with a lot as a parent is financial balance.

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.

How can you find out more?

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.

So how do you find that balance between living in the present and planning for the future?

Is it possible to enjoy the present, but also plan for the future? Of course! It just requires balance, and following these 5 smart tips. #ad #UFundDreams

8 Smart Ways to Raise Money-Savvy Kids

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Are you raising money-savvy kids? Read about these 7 smart ways you and The U. Fund Dreams Tour can help your family. Some may surprise you #ad #UFundDreams

Last week, Scarlet held her own lemonade stand. We helped, of course, but she was the star of the show.

What I found fascinating was that a simple summer childhood activity – holding a lemonade stand – is CHOCK full of goodness and learning experiences. She is learning how to talk to people. She is learning how to sell something she believes in. And, she is learning how to count and handle money – with quick math skills – and she is learning about the value of money. Sometimes it seems to kids that money is readily available – ripe for their plucking. My son thinks we get it from a machine!

It does, of course, come from an ATM but he thinks the ATM just gives it to us, and that we don’t have to put it there first!

That’s why I love these experiences to help change the way they view and handle money, and how this might shape them into money-savvy adults. With the changing world, it’s always important to get a handle/understanding of money while young. And that’s part of the reason I took Scarlet to the U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent at the grand opening of the Dr. Seuss Museum several weeks ago. We wanted to see Dr. Seuss, of course, but I really wanted to see the U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent and talk more about financial decisions for my family’s future. It’s about feeling safe and secure, and imagining the future.

Here are our 8 ways to raise money-savvy kids:

1 – Start those conversations early, with games. Even from a young age, kids can understand certain concepts – like counting, more vs. less, etc. They start to understand the value of every kind of coin at an early age, and can play learning games.

2 – Be age-appropriate with your lessons. Although they can understand a lot, you can start with more simple tasks – like sorting coins. Older kids will understand how choices affect family finances and can learn more appropriate lessons.

3 – Give your children an allowance, but encourage them to earn money through work. Allowances build awareness, and you can put a dollar amount on age-appropriateness. Have them take care of household and yard chores, for small allowances.

4 – Involve your children in family decisions/purchases. We needed a new fridge and a new TV within the last year, and we included them in the process. They understood how much decision-making goes into such a giant purchase for the home.

5 – Let them make their own spending decisions with their money. Chances are, they will make mistakes. That’s ok because adults do too! It’s better to understand the value of money at a younger age. They will learn about budgeting too.

6 – Teach them to GIVE. As I write this, my kids are going through their bedrooms with trash bags – finding toys they haven’t played with in months/years. Charity/donating is a huge part of our family value system, and will charge their futures.

7 – Don’t be shy about family finances. Kids are known for asking questions – be prepared with answers that make sense to you, and align with your values. I don’t talk about EVERYTHING, but sometimes my daughter will accompany me to work and I’ll explain how much I put in for a certain job, and what the profit is after the job. We talk about mortgage and monthly bills, needs vs. wants, charity, budgets, and even the tooth fairy. Transparency – to a degree – helps with understanding.

8 – Be a role model. YOU set the best example for you kids, and what they know and understand about money. Make sure your decisions/actions model a healthy example. It was important to me to take Scarlet to the U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent.

u fund dreams tour

My kids are getting older and savvier, and sometimes it takes me a bit longer to catch up. Ultimately, I’m so impressed with what I have found out so far, and what our options are as we move forward as a family. The U. Fund Dreams Tour empowers us to make decisions about our family’s future, with resources available to help us better navigate this process.

How can you find out more?

These events will be taking place between May and October of 2017 and they look GOOD. My family attended a few U. Fund Dreams Tour events in 2016 and had a blast. The events will all 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 helping your children be more money-savvy.

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.

So how are you helping to raise money-savvy kids?