It's my first Mother's Day with Dean on the outside. And while our spending habits have changed a bit now that I'm a mom, I can't help thinking about how much our financial priorities have stayed the same. Said differently, my values around money and saving are still the same- the things we spend on are just a bit different.
I wrote my book, “If You Love Your Family, Save Like It” back in 2014. The main premise being that “Saving Like It” means spending, saving, and investing in alignment with your values and most important goals in mind. As opposed to operating financially within the guidelines of how society, your family, and the Joneses think you should be.
My most important value and priority around money was and still is financial security. What's so important about financial security to me? Having the financial freedom to be able to have memorable experiences with the people I love- today, not tomorrow or at some random point in the future. People like to say that money isn't everything. That it doesn't cost anything to just spend time with the ones you love, but that's really not true. While taking a walk with my mom chatting, sitting down for dinner at home with Bobby and sharing about our days, or doing tummy time with Dean on our living room floor are all examples of quality time spent with family, none of those are really possible if in order to keep a roof over our heads or food in the fridge I need to be working instead. Having the freedom to be able to take the time to do those things instead of taking on another client is part of financial security, and I think it's something that so often gets overlooked. The second layer of this is the tradeoff between more money and more time, and it's an important thing to consider.
When I was still pregnant with Dean, my husband Bobby and I made the decision to retire him from teaching. There were a variety of reasons that I won't go into in this post, but suffice it to say that it was a difficult decision. With a baby on the way, it was so tempting to keep the second paycheck. We heard all of the well intentioned reasons from well-meaning family and friends about why they thought the decision was a mistake. Babies are expensive, we wanted more than one kid, health insurance is expensive, pensions are rare, and a slew of others. Regardless of the validity of those concerns, we thought it was better for us as a family to give up the extra salary in exchange for more time together as a family. Seven months into parenthood on a single income and we both agree its one of the best decisions we could have made for ourselves. Even though we've had to make some spending adjustments.
There is always a tradeoff with every decision. Instead of retiring Bobby, he could have worked another 10 years, we could have socked away his salary in investments during that time instead and had him continuing to grow his pension, and we could have both retired super young. That was a good possible alternative that could have worked, but it wasn't the best decision for us. There isn't only one way. Saving, spending, and investing in alignment with your values a.k.a “like you love your family” isn't easy. It takes intention, a bit of sacrifice, constantly reevaluating and refining your goals, and developing a muscle around these exercises so that as life changes, you continue prioritizing and operating in alignment with these values.
Today this is what works for us so we're doing it and we're loving every minute. We could afford to make this decision, and after weighing every single pro and con and running through the worst case scenarios, we're confident that we'd have been risking much more in not taking this leap than in taking it.
If you want to learn more about how to love your family through mastering your finances, my book is currently available on Amazon for Kindle or you can purchase a signed physical copy directly via my website.