One of the first things I do when I meet with a new person or existing client is to ask about their family. If I’m getting to know someone new, I want to know everything: how many kids, kids ages, spouse, where they came from, and what are the family’s likes and interests. It’s incredible how much time is spent here talking about family as compared to other areas that you would think would take more precedence – such as your finances. I disagree. When it comes to all of your financial decision making, family is at the core.
I’ll use myself as an example. I chose my profession to give me the flexibility of choosing my hours in order to be more present for my kids. I made the choice to find a career that would match my family’s needs while still in college; long before I had a decent prospect for a husband or kids on the way! I’m a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to lead; however in reality – I know our family is always on our mind when we choose career paths and whether we lean in or out.
Since family is at the core of most of our decisions, I encourage you to make it at the core of your finances too. First in line of duty for your financial foundation is to make sure your family is protected. We can never protect our families from life’s uncertainties. But how we rebuild after unexpected events is entirely dependent on what we plan ahead. Nobody wants to think of the consequences of a death or bad accident happening in their own family, but it can derail all of your family’s plans both emotionally, physically, and financially. When Sheryl Sandberg shared with everyone on Facebook and at the UC Berkeley Graduation ceremony of 2016, “Let’s kick the s--- out of plan B,” she was referring to her and her children’s plans after her husband’s death. We all know it’s not what she wanted, but family life must proceed.
Let’s live out plan A, but keep plan B visible. How will your family survive a tragic death, illness, or accident? Will you be able to continue living the same standard of living you have today? If you are a care provider, how much will it cost to replace the care you provide for your family? What will happen to your household income? What additional costs may you incur due to an accident, illness, or death? Uncertainties come in other shapes and forms too, such as claims from creditors, litigants, divorce, estate taxes, and even identity fraud. Can you honestly and objectively answer these questions yourself, or do you need a third party to come in and support your decision making? We know you are betting on plan A, but let’s make sure your family can kick the ---- out of plan B.