A Critical Piece of Financial Advice for Growing Families
How Developing a Family Values Plan Can Help Keep Your Family on TrackKathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Wednesday, 22 June 2022
You’ve probably heard all of the most common financial advice for growing families: max out your 401(k)s, invest money into a 529 college savings plan, buy life insurance, make sure your will is up to date, and so on. These are all important steps for cementing a firm financial foundation for your family, of course, but there’s more to consider.
Another important piece of a growing family’s financial puzzle is to determine what values they hold dear, and then commit to using those values to make financial decisions. Below, we’ll discuss why taking this step matters and how to get started.
Why Your Family Needs a Family Values Plan
If you’re having trouble connecting the dots between your values and your financial health, let’s break down the benefits of a family values plan:
It Holds You Accountable
It’s normal to want to give your kids the world, to provide them with the best of the best whenever you can. But what is the best? Who gets to decide that one thing is better than another? As a parent, there are going to be countless opportunities to spend money on things that you think your children need. From clothes to toys, to games, to vacations – the temptation to keep up with the Joneses will never really go away. But having a framework of family values and how they align with your long-term financial goals can help keep you focused on the bigger picture, rather than material items.
It Reminds You of What is Important
In today’s day and age where social media runs rampant and everywhere we look we can see a heavily filtered and edited version of the lives being lived around us, the pressure to keep up is constantly reinforced not just for us as parents, but for our children, as well. It’s so easy to feel like you’re failing your children if they’re not going to the best summer camps, using the best sports gear, or going to Mexico on spring break with their friends. Not only does this pressure cause an immense amount of psychological stress, but it can lead to significant financial strain on families if left unchecked. While it’s okay to spend money on these types of things, it’s important that you’re doing so for the right reasons, not out of fear of not fitting in or disappointing your children. Having a family values plan in place can help ensure that you’re striking the right balance between taking care of your family while also making the right choices for your family’s future.
It Sets a Strong Example for Your Children
So much of what we know about money management comes from our upbringing. When you’re clear with your kids about your values – and they continually witness you staying true to them in the face of temptation – you’re giving them a gift that will serve them for life. Not only will your children be able to learn smart money habits from watching you, but you’ll have taught your children to honor the promises that they make to themselves.
SEE ALSO: Are You Practicing Values-Based Financial Planning?
Creating the Right Values Plan for Your Family
If you want your family to benefit from creating a family values plan, here’s how you can do so in three steps:
Building a family values plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Sit down with your partner – or, if you’re a single parent, take some time to ruminate on these things yourself – and make a list of what you want to prioritize and hold dear as a family. If your children are old enough, include them in this conversation by asking them what is most important to them in life.
There are no right or wrong answers. Your family could choose to value things like education, compassion, adventure, gratitude, physical health, or achieving goals. Whatever you decide, be sure that you take the time to be thoughtful about it. Our values ultimately impact our behavior, as well as reinforce our beliefs about the world around us, so you’ll want to be sure that your list will cultivate a culture within your family that you can be proud of. Here are some prompts to help lead the conversation:
- What do you want your home to feel like to your children?
- Imagine your child is 18 and moving out of your home, who do you want them to be?
- What traits do you admire in other families you know? What traits don’t you admire?
- What are your strengths as a family?
- What do you envision for your family 5 years from now? What about 10 years from now?
- What makes you want to come home?
Communicate openly and honestly and listen for common themes.
Second: Write a Mission Statement
Once you have your list of family values, it’s time to write your family mission statement. It doesn’t have to be anything sophisticated or eloquent, just a clear, compelling vision of what you and your family are all about. What’s important is that you’re articulating what is most meaningful to your family, so aim for clarity and consensus.
Third: Create a Visual Representation
Once your family has determined a clear vision of your values, create a visual representation of your family values plan that you will all see every day. This could take various forms: it could be a vision board attached to the refrigerator, a painting that gets hung in the living room, or a simple typed-out mission statement framed in your home. Whatever you decide, be sure that it’s somewhere centralized for the whole family to see. This will not only ensure that you’re constantly reminded of the things your family holds dear, but it can be a great resource to turn to whenever a financial decision needs to be made.
SEE ALSO: Prepare Your Finances to Welcome a New Baby
Whether you’re a single parent or raising a family with a partner, it can be tempting to create a family values plan on your own, thinking that you know best. However, it’s important to involve your entire family as much as possible. Building a family values plan together forces you to conceive, construct, and vocalize a collective ideal of what you want your family to be. The more collaborative the effort, the more likely that the representation will accurately reflect your entire family. Once you have your plan in place, it’s important to honor it as much as you can – not only so that you can stay on track towards achieving those long-term goals, but also to show your children what it looks like to be steadfast in your beliefs and values. It’s these sorts of examples and experiences that will make the biggest impact on your kids once they’re adults.
At Flourish Wealth Management, we understand that financial planning is about so much more than money – it’s about accurately reflecting what you value most and building a pathway to fulfillment. Our team of advisors works with each client to deliver an individualized wealth management plan that’s aligned with the clients’ unique values and goals. If you’d like to start a conversation with one of our professionals about creating a financial plan that honors what makes your family special, contact us today.
About the Author
Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA
Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.