Baby Smiles and My Financial A-ha Moment

family finances2My husband and I had been married for almost four years before we had our first serious financial A-ha moment.

We had already bought a house, paid off our student loans and were socking away a small stash into our respective retirement accounts. If I had to compare ourselves to most young couples, I would say were doing pretty well. Hell, I think we were rocking it!

But things got serious when we brought our first son into the world. He was handsome and sweet and perfect in every way. And as we gazed into his big brown eyes and became mesmerized by his dimples, we both knew we wanted to do everything possible to protect him and give him the best life possible.

So we met with a financial planner.

The idea of meeting with a finance geek both delighted and scared the crap out of me. Anyone who knows me understands I am a total planner, but I was worried about what we would hear.

  • Were we saving enough?
  • Did we have major gaps in our portfolio?
  • Would we be able to pay for all of the needs of our son, and avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck? After all, kids are EXPENSIVE!

Before our big meeting, we were tasked with pulling together a number of documents for the planner to review – pay stubs, retirement account options and returns, savings account details, insurance policies and beyond. We additionally filled out a questionnaire about our feelings regarding financial risk, our short-term and near-term goals, our desires for life post-retirement, and the financial situation we wanted to create for our kids.

It was heavy stuff to address, but we ticked off each to-do and eventually met face-to-face with the planner.

As we talked about our situation, the financial planner assured us he was there to look at our desired goals and help us create options and scenarios for us to meet that vision.

With the birth of our son and a relatively new mortgage, we realized we immediately needed to increase our life insurance policies and create a Living Trust. We also started to discuss college plans –and how we felt about saving for our son and the kids to come. Were we trying to save enough to send junior to the Ivy Leagues with 100% coverage, or did we want to have enough for a solid state university? Or did we want our kids to pay for some of their college education themselves?

The great thing about these conversations is that there really weren’t any wrong responses. We simply needed to know where we wanted to go, and the planner helped us do the math and run the scenarios.

It took some time to get everything in place, but we did it. And after we created our plan, my husband and I both felt so much relief. Yes, we had some BIG goals, but now we know what we need to do to make progress. There was no more guessing or hoping or dreaming. There will always be variables that can impact our numbers and savings goals, but that is why we created options and different scenarios.

And getting that Living Trust in place was HUGE. It forced us to have the difficult conversations around guardianship for our kids, in the event something happened to us, and define medical wishes for ourselves.

As I fast forward to present day, I’m really proud of my husband and me for taking this big step on our financial journey together. It was scary, but now I feel like our little team has a playbook, and while it might need some tweaking from time to time, we are focused and at-peace with the decisions we are making every month.

Have you had a significant A-ha financial moment on your life journey? Please share.

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And with it being Financial Literacy Month, I’d encourage you to check out some other great posts on financial A-ha moments at the online Financial Literacy Carnival, sponsored by Shannon Ryan at The Heavy Purse.

Her Juggle: Adrienne Hedger

Hedger at Desk

This week I am excited to feature a good friend who is amazingly funny and talented on “Her Juggle.” Adrienne Hedger has a super cool job – and she is one of my working girl idols since she has successfully managed to merge passion with career. You’ve likely seen her work around the web at NickMom - I know I’ve related to a number of pieces, and laughed out loud wondering if she has a spy camera in my home to garner inspiration for the craziness us moms face. Check out Adrienne’s work here and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us what you do for a living.

I’m a writer and cartoonist. My work is a mix of comics (about parenting), greeting cards, books, and writing/illustration assignments for corporations. [Read more...]

Working Moms and Lack of Sleep: Got a Solution?

working momsThey say the sleep gets better after those newborn years. I hate to tell you, but those people lie!

Yes, there are no more midnight feedings, random cry-fests, or toddler night terrors.

But sleep? Don’t expect to get the recommended eight hours very often. [Read more...]

Her Juggle: Jess H.

Her JuggleMeet Jess. This working mom has a full schedule, juggling life as an attorney and a mom to a young toddler. Take a glimpse into her average day and you’ll quickly see she is non-stop, even finding hidden moments to dabble in some very cool side projects and passions in home restoration.

Tell us what you do for a living.

I’m an attorney.

How many kids do you have? Ages?

I have one child, a 21-month-old.

Explain your average morning. [Read more...]

A Chance to Help a Bereaved Mother

mother's day bereavementEvery night, as I lie in bed, I thank God for the beautiful, healthy children sleeping just down the hall. I had easy pregnancies, relatively easy labors and now all three kids are thriving, growing so fast, morphing into unique individuals with special gifts.

If only it could be that simple for every woman … [Read more...]

What is it With Three?

IMG_1318Maybe I blacked them out, but I don’t recall the terrible twos as so terrible. Sure, there was the potty training and the occasional battle to nap. But the threes … well, let me just say I have a few expletives I’d associate with the threes.

I’m no rookie mom. I have two older boys. And I can vividly remember people commenting, ”Boys are tougher when they’re younger. Girls are more challenging when they’re older.”

Really? I beg to differ.

Since my daughter has turned three, she has proven to be wicked smart and persistently stubborn.

  • She screams louder.
  • She cries for longer stretches.
  • Her vocabulary has exploded, yet she refuses to “use her words” when she is frustrated.
  • She’s quick to unbuckle her car seat, while we drive.
  • She says “NO!” ALL. THE. TIME.
  • Her diet is horrendous – on most evenings she demands cheese, nothing more.
  • She argues about her clothes.
  • And she wanders the aisles of stores, making me bolt into a sprint to catch her.

I imagine this all sounds like pretty typical three-year-old behavior, but I swear she is so much more intense than my boys.

I find myself counting the days until she turns four, as if that magical birthdate will transform her into an easier child.

But yet, I know I shouldn’t wish away the threes. Before I know it, she’ll march off to elementary school. The princess obsession will disappear. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll wish to wear more than the color pink. [Read more...]

Her Juggle: Christina Fowler

 

I feel like Christina and I are living parallel lives. My boys are the same ages as her children, so we can both relate to the daily grind of homework and after-school activities, and of course logging back on in the wee hours of the night to tackle more work. Go, go, go! Learn more about how she manages family, career and more - and definitely check out her favorite mom tip. It’s pure awesome – I couldn’t agree more!

ccfowlerfamily

Tell us what you do for a living. 

Outside of the home, I work as a full-time Marketing Manager for a non-profit.  I have worked at this non-profit since way back when I was still “young.”  In fact, my office family has seen me marry and bring two children into this world. They’ve become my second family.  They also “get-it” and give me the flexibility I need to juggle both work and home.

I am also a blogger, social media/marketing consultant and the Vice President of the PTO at my children’s school. AND last but not least, I am a swim and soccer taxi. ;-) [Read more...]

When Did The Holidays Get So Insane?

holidaysGrowing up in my childhood home, there was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Let’s call them the “majors.” Those were the biggies to celebrate as a family, and we enjoyed the traditional festivities that went with them. Trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, turkeys, presents and Easter baskets. The basics, right?

Fast forward to present day, and it seems as if those “basics” are really only scratching the surface when it comes to celebrating the holidays with kids. Now we need to do “Elf on the Shelf” and leprechaun traps and full-on breakfast spreads that look like they came straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine. [Read more...]

Trying to Tame the Spring Cleaning Fever

spring cleaningLiving in Southern California, there really is no dramatic difference in the seasons. In the summer, it can get especially warm, but otherwise it’s generally low to mid-70s and comfortable.

Still, there is something about spring that gets me crazy with the need to purge, clean and refresh. I want to take on new home improvement projects, scrub up unseen corners and toss random messes from every closet. [Read more...]

The Work You Should Be Doing

procrastinate

Perhaps you’ve seen this quote posted on Pinterest, or maybe on a friend’s Facebook wall. I’m certainly aware of my “time sucks,” but I doubt I could make a living watching shameful reality TV or surfing the Web.

But in all seriousness, after I saw this quote several times in several different places, it got me thinking. Beyond enjoying the company of my husband and kids, how do I enjoy using my time?

  • I love a good book. I always have at least two going at the same time. If I was on a deserted island, my Kindle would for sure be one of the items I’d need.
  • I love to write. Whether blogging or freelancing or drafting something for work, I embrace the challenge of taking a blank page and creating something worth reading. I don’t always succeed, but I try.
  • I love flipping through magazines, or reading online web stories. I’m so glad I was born into an era where there is information overload. I can lose myself for hours learning about new trends, inspirational individuals or random facts.
  • I love to ask questions. I don’t necessarily enjoy the spotlight, but I am enamored with other people’s stories. How did they find their passions? How did they grow up? How did the meet their spouse? Where do they like to travel? What makes them tick? What do they value? How do they raise their kids? With so much diversity in our world, people fascinate me. I want to learn about them, if they’ll allow me to dig.
  • I love the outdoors. Whether it’s walking the dog, planting flowers, going for a run, sitting at the beach, I crave the sunshine, nature and all things green.
  • I love to exercise. Some people dread working out, but I miss my days when I don’t get to sweat it out or do something physical.

Just last week, as I was reading in my spare time (of course), I discovered a passage saying you should select a career based on what you enjoyed doing in second grade. I would quote the source, but I read so many random posts last week I can’t credit it. Regardless, I thought back to my second-grade days and can honestly say most of the items noted above were things I also enjoyed when I was seven – reading, writing, playing outside, participating in sports.

I doubt I could make a career of kickball, or journaling in my Hello Kitty notebook, but I’ve kind-of sort-of made a career out of the things I love to do. On my best days, when I’m able to read and write and create and ask questions, I find myself in a state of flow. Add in some exercise and time outdoors and I would call it the perfect day.

It’s an interesting concept – and I’m not sure if it applies to everyone – but it might be worth a little reflection.

What do find yourself doing when you procrastinate? What did you like in second grade?

Any linkages do what you do now for a career?

Cheers to you if they are one in the same. We should all be so lucky!