This is a subject everyone
cares about but many are reluctant to discuss openly: money.
One of the most empowering lessons you can learn is that there's more
to money than just buying stuff. Savings can help you achieve a
bigger goal or smooth over shakeups in your life like a career change
or moving to a new place. Savings mean security and options. Here are
some tips for building up your own nest egg.
1. Set a goal: If you don't have
savings, your first goal can be to set up an emergency fund. Most
financial gurus suggest aiming for three months' worth of living expenses
as a initial goal. You can also set goals for projects (e.g., that
new business you want to start) or a big purchases (e.g., your first
unapologetically thrifty: Thriftiness used be
a virtue. Would I like the $12 pressed coconut juice at that cute new
juicery in town? Sure. Do I need it? Nah. Is it overpriced?
Definitely! Am I missing out by not having it? Not if I choose to not make it important. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about what you
choose to buy or not buy, or what you can or cannot afford, especially when it comes to
things that are superfluous like a fancy juice.
entrepreneurial: The flip side of
spending less is trying to earn more. Easier said than done, I know. Many of us don't know
it, but we moms develop skills well-suited to business: multitasking,
organizing, determination, self-sacrifice and not being afraid to
get your hands dirty. When we apply these skills to something else we
care about, sometimes a business blooms. Initially, my consulting practice
started out as me writing a few emails from my kitchen table while my
toddler napped. Now my work helps support my family and grow our
As a rule, avoid
pyramid schemes that sometimes get circulated by well-meaning people.
Stick to what works and what you know.
4. Get on the same
page: Family savings only
work if it's a goal everyone shares. Determine a realistic plan with
your spouse or partner. It's important to be transparent about
everything related to your family's financial well-being. Older kids
need to understand too, but frame it a way that inspires confidence.
Rather than saying, "We can't afford that toy," say, "We're not
getting that because we're saving for something more important."
5. Pay down
high-interest debt: If you have
high-interest debt, your long-term savings are a major disadvantage. Paying
the minimum means you'll end up paying far more over time, which
takes away from your family's potential savings. With that in mind,
develop a plan to attack high-interest debt.
6. Enjoy life
without spending (much): My sweetest memories
are filled with people, not things. For instance, my daughter and I
enjoy going to the library together, where we get a few new books
to debut at bedtime. It costs me nothing but it's always a highlight
of our day. Other activities a family can enjoy that don't have to be
spendy: home-cooked meals, museums on free days, picnics, hiking,
playground playdates, dancing, yoga, movie nights at home. You might
find that by spending less, you experience more.
7. Budget with
purpose: The secret to
sticking to a budget is not getting bogged down on the restrictive
nature of it. You can either feel bad about having to budget or you
can feel good about saving money. I plan ahead,
compare prices, shop during sales and always look for a promo code
when shopping online. I splurge from time to time, but the reason a
splurge feels special (rather than guilt-inducing) is because it's a
rare treat. Splurges still need to be reasonable though. That is, a
splurge shouldn't wipe out your savings and all your hard work. When budgeting gets you down, recall the purpose motivating it all.
7. Be relentless: There will be
setbacks along the way. Just when you feel like you're making
progress on your rainy day fund, you might get hit by a thunderstorm.
Don't be discouraged. You can always pick yourself back up. Doing so
is an essential skill all adults must practice and it's a life lesson
worth teaching our kids. Success and savings must be relentlessly