How Do You Do It?
Note: this post appeared on my previous blog and was published 03.18.18
Some of you may not be familiar with my personal story. Long story, short: my wife and I went from having 1 kid to 5 kids in a span of 2.5 years. Five kids. That was over 6 years ago. Today, they are 14, 8, 7 & 7 (twins!), & 6 years old.
Yesterday I was catching up with an old friend. We hadn't spoken in a few years and something he said struck me. Here it is:
"Your kids, holy cow! How do you do it? We have JUST two and man, it can be difficult."
I hear this a lot. Like, a lot. First, I want to say that our life is not harder than anyone else's. It's crazy, it's chaotic, no doubt. But it's not harder. It's different. Second, two kids is all my friend knows. That's his reality. It doesn't make him more or less busy than us. Two kids is a lot of responsibility. When that's what you know, that's what your life is. And it's no walk in the park, either. Kids are hard.
So I was thinking about this last night and it occurred to me. Raising kids, being a parent, it's not that much different than dealing with your financial life. And of course, both are intertwined. Because let's face it, kids are expensive! Let's discuss:
Whether you have 1 kid, 5 kids, or 8 kids, being a parent requires organization. Getting the morning routine down, lunches, homework, practices, birthday parties, coordinating schedules, juggling work, etc. Your balance sheet has to be organized also. Understanding what everything looks like, where is it, are we saving enough.
This is a tough one. I think all parents want the best for their kids. And often this means saying "no". No to staying up late, no to the pack of gum in the checkout lane at the grocery store, no to playing video games or eating at Chic-Fil-A every night. In our financial world, we also have to display discipline. Discipline to save money, the ability to stick to a budget/spending plan, or even doing the right thing at the right time for our balance sheets.
What else can you say here about committing to being a parent? I mean, that's it. Even before that baby is born, you are locked in. The responsibility is enormous, and never ending. That child will always be yours. There's no half-stepping when it comes to being a parent, either. You get one chance to raise them right. Same thing with our financial lives. We only get one shot at this. We have to be committed to doing the right things, protecting our balance sheets, saving more money. We can't be all willy-nilly with this stuff. It takes commitment.
As a parent, we always have an eye on the future. Am I raising them right? Do they behave themselves when I'm not around? Will they be okay when they go off to college? Are they learning enough life lessons to be good human beings? In our financial lives, I think we always have an eye on the future as well. Will my family be okay if something happens to me? Are we saving enough to retire? Will I outlive my money when I am retired?
Whether you're raising 2 kids like my buddy, or 5 kids like us, it's not always the smoothest ride. Remember, life is not a straight line. I'm very fortunate. I have an incredible wife. She's an out of this world mother to our kids. Together, I like to think we make a pretty strong team. And that's how we do it. Just like my buddy and his wife and two kids.
Financially, it's no different. You have to have a very strong team. A team to help you get organized, be disciplined, stay committed, and keep an eye on the future.
Who's on your financial team?