Like many people, I have not always been very responsible when it came to finances. My downslide started when I had to pay my own way through college and used loans and credit cards to do so. It didn’t help that I never really learned how to properly balance a checkbook – a reference for those of you who even know what that means J. Needless to say, I was not setting myself up for the most financially stable future.
I have always held a minimum of two jobs ever since I can remember, but never seemed to be able to get ahead. I won’t say I am presently perfect with money management, but I am working much harder at it now that I have a child. When managing or teaching anyone, I am a firm believer in “practice what you preach,” and “lead by example.” I can’t teach my daughter certain life skills if I am not presenting those skills for her to emulate.
I am working hard to build a stable future for my sweet little person – and should she ever need financial help when she is older, I absolutely want to be able to step in with any level assistance she may need.
I don’t have a master plan or any classes lined up, I am simply starting with actually paying attention to where I am spending my money. Even when I go to the grocery store, I am more conscious of what I put in the cart and how much items cost. That small change alone has made a difference for me. Before, I would just go to the store, pick up whatever I needed (or wanted), didn’t even think about the prices, then just paid at the checkout. I worried about how other bills would get paid later, after all, I have to have groceries, right?
I do need to eat, but I now take the time to look around my kitchen and pantry to see what I actually need, I make a list, then I head to the store. Anything not on the list gets a second thought: Do I really need that?” or “Why am I really buying that?” Once I go through that mental process, I know whether or not I will actually eat that product, or if it will follow so many other items that just expired and ended up in the garbage.
I want to not only set a quality example for her in terms of effectively managing money, but I also want to be able to help her when college rolls around. I have heard so many parents with children in high school talk about how they won’t be able to pay, and how they hope their child gets a full ride, or at least a really good scholarship – which will then dictate where they go to college regardless of their own preference. I may be wishing too much, but I want her to have choices and I don’t want money to be an overall deciding factor when her time comes. I have even begun looking into college savings plans (a story for another day) in hopes of that bearing the brunt of the cost.
Naturally, there are other things I would like to do for her with stable finances. I would like to be able to throw her nice birthday parties, take her on vacations and other excursions, take her to restaurants every now and then, buy her a car one day – and the list goes on. Making sure she has her essential needs met without issue goes without saying, I hope.
I am not stating we are having financial troubles right now, but the saying “we are all just one paycheck away from poverty,” crosses my mind from time to time. I don’t want that to happen so I am taking the necessary steps now I think will prevent it.
- Making lists
- Taking the time to really think about purchases before making them (do I really need it? how have I been getting by without it up to this point?)
- Actually paying attention to the cost of various items before purchasing
- Making a conscious effort to save money
- Making a conscious effort to budget or plan when I pay bills, not just pay them blindly
- Taking the time to review my expenses to see where I can cut back or cut out
- Taking the time to balance my checking account
- Moving my savings account to a different bank from my checking so the funds are not so easily accessible
Perhaps all of this is a bit late (I maybe should have started before she was born), but it is still better than never…right?