Simple Steps Parents Can Take Today for Their Family’s Future Financial Security

Guest post by Sara Bailey

The key to a strong financial future includes a great deal of budgeting, short- and- long-term planning, and saving as much money as possible along the way. When you’re raising a family, however, saving money for the future isn’t quite so simple—especially when you account for the high cost of raising a child. Here’s how you can tackle those day-to-day expenses and still set your family up for a brilliant financial future.

Facts and Figures

There are plenty of expenses that go into raising children—childcare, education, food, housing, medical coverage, and extracurricular activities are just a handful of common costs. But what does all that add up to? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you can expect to spend anywhere from $233,610 to $284,570 on raising a child—or more depending on where you live. Since these estimates do not include the cost of college tuition, you’ll need to factor these amounts in as well if you plan to fund your child’s post-secondary education. While a variety of college savings plans are available to assist you in saving for your child’s education—including 529 plans, Roth IRAs, and Coverdell education savings accounts—it’s important to think about your own financial future as well, especially your short- and- long-term goals. To build a comfortable financial future for you and your family, you need to start with a basic budget.

Create a Post-Baby Budget

Even if you followed a budget before you started raising a family, chances are your finances have changed quite a bit since you welcomed a child into your life. As such, it’s important to modify your post-baby budget to factor in any childcare, health insurance, medical coverage, education expenses, and housing costs. Track expenses carefully, and use tools to make staying on target a breeze. If your budget allows room for additional savings or spending each month, you can use that money to build an emergency fund for your family. Some experts say that an emergency fund should include enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses, while others recommend saving as much as 12 months of expenses.

Save for a Down Payment on a Home

If you plan on buying a home for your growing family, your post-baby budget can also help you to determine how much you can afford to set aside for a down payment. While QuickenLoans notes USDA and VA home loans don’t require any money down, FHA loans and conventional mortgages do. Depending on the type of mortgage you qualify for, down payment requirements on FHA and conventional loans typically range from 3.5 to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. However, a 20 percent down payment is ideal in many cases—especially if you’re aiming to reduce the amount of your monthly mortgage payments, lower your interest rate, and avoid paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI). Plus, earnest money deposits that range from one to three percent of a home’s sale price are also ideal—especially in a competitive market.

Draft an Estate Plan

In addition to creating a budget, building an emergency fund, and saving for a down payment on a home for your family, it’s important to draft an estate plan that provides your children with the protection they need in the event of your death. When creating your estate plan, you’ll need to draft a will, update the beneficiaries on your retirement plans and bank accounts, and make note of your final wishes—such as whether you’d like to be buried or cremated when you die. As part of the estate planning process, it’s also important to purchase life insurance if you haven’t already done so. Whether you purchase term, whole, or universal life insurance coverage, the policy will protect your children in the event of your death. In some cases, you may choose to purchase burial insurance as well. With everything that goes into raising children and keeping them safe, clothed, housed, and fed, financial planning may seem like the least important responsibility of taking on the role of a parent. Set a smart budget that will help realize your goals. The more planning you do today, the more secure your family’s financial future will be.

Use Journaling and Self-Reflection to Create a Personal Growth Plan

Let’s face it; we live in a fast-paced world. As an entrepreneur, we wear multiple hats to keep our businesses moving forward. This level of activity can lead to tunnel vision if we don’t intentionally schedule the time to reflect. Without reflection and evaluation, our companies can easily take over our lives.

I am a huge advocate for taking time to pause and reflect. It is essential to look ahead to where we are going, but it is equally important to look back at where we have been, evaluate what is working, and identify areas that could use tweaking. Only then can we have an accurate perspective and see the big picture.

Pausing is a powerful tool that can be used to refresh our spirit and our focus. Taking time to reflect allows growth to catch up with us. Life experience is just that unless we make time to evaluate and turn daily interactions into insights. Quieting our spirit to listen to the pulse of our lives and business can help us steer our path forward in a way that is most beneficial.

One of the best ways to dig deep is to journal. Having an intentional purpose for your journaling will reveal areas to work on. Let me share one of my client’s revelations from journaling: 

She was a young entrepreneur who wanted to raise her rates. However, she’d hesitate every time she would try to address her rate change with her clients. She knew she was offering value, but something was holding her back when it came time to have the discussion. After a couple of weeks of journaling, she discovered she had self-esteem issues that were tied to her money mindset. She was able to trace the cause of her insecurity back to a conversation she had with her parents when she was a child. 

Once she was able to identify the root of her roadblock, we created a strategy to confront the issue, and she went on to confidently have successful money conversations with existing and new clients. Had she not taken time to pause and reflect, she may have struggled financially in her business for years.

Pausing makes our lives better. When we take time to pause and reflect, we can savor the moments of each day. I recommend having a special place to reflect and journal. My preferred time to slow down and journal is late at night. I like to create a warm atmosphere by burning my favorite candle and snuggling in my oversized chair. Creating a peaceful environment allows me to tap into my emotions and open my mind to capture the things that are important. I use this time to replay conversations and events from each day. I evaluate how they went, and what I could have done better. 

Leaders take time to pause and think. If we are going to lead our businesses successfully, there are many different types of thinking strategies to get comfortable with. For example, big-picture thinking, strategic thinking, creative thinking, innovating thinking, and bottom-line thinking. Taking time to intentionally expand our thinking time while journaling will generate ideas, improve relationships, and create strategies to grow our businesses. Uninterrupted time alone creates space to sort through the complexities of life and put them into perspective. This ritual, if practiced consistently, can be life-changing.

The first step in developing a growth plan entails setting an intentional purpose and focus of our journaling. Initially, to provide structure, incorporate the four “I’s” into your journaling routine. Growth comes from uncovering the insights and truths that lie within us. 

Investigation – Investigating requires more than just stopping to smell the roses. An authentic investigation can only happen if we ask ourselves deep and probing questions. Try these out for starters:

  •   What is my biggest strength?
  •   What is my biggest weakness?
  •   What fuels my passions?
  •   What takes the wind out of my sails?
  •   What emotion drives me?
  •   What emotion repels me?
  •   What habits do I want to cultivate?
  •   What habits do I need to eliminate?
  •   What activity fills my tank?
  •   What activity depletes me?
  •   What values drive my life?
  •   How did I grow today?
  •   What obstacles stand in my way of growth?
  •   What learning moments did I encounter today?
  •   Who am I helping develop into a leader?

No matter what area of life you want to focus on for growth, use this simple format of asking questions to dig deeper and accelerate your progress.

Incubation – Incubating our thoughts is almost like meditation. Take time to listen to your spirit speak to you. Roll thoughts and emotions over in your mind. Evaluate ideas and see if they have merit to pursue.

Illumination  – Putting a spotlight on your “aha” moments will help you see insights that were hidden from you. These “aha” moments often follow incubation periods and allow a plan to come together.

Illustration – Illustrating your vision is like putting flesh on a skeleton. This part of the process is where you outline the details of the plan and determine actionable steps. 

I know, you’re probably feeling resistance to the depth of this journaling ritual. I promise you will receive results if you set aside 20 – 30 minutes daily. Like anything worth pursuing, you will get out of it, what you put into it. There is value in writing out your questions and answers; you’ll be amazed to discover what you truly know, think and believe about yourself and your life. Your journal will also become an amazing reference and confidence building tool to reflect back on your journey and see how you overcame challenging circumstances.  

Your ultimate goal is to become the best possible version of yourself and reach your full potential. You can accomplish this by scheduling a consistent time to pause and reflect daily. This means putting yourself at the top of your priority list and making this time non-negotiable. Henri Arnold said, “The wise man questions himself…” By intentionally asking yourself probing questions, you will gain a deeper understanding of who you are and what values drive you. Are you ready to get started?

#journaling #personalgrowth #awareness #personaldevelopment

The Power of Journaling

Journaling is an ancient practice that dates back to the 10th century. Many successful people, including presidents, have kept a journal to document their journey. There is powering journaling that can’t be duplicated through other avenues of communication.

Many women, like me, started journaling when they were young girls by keeping a diary. Journaling was an excellent way to process thoughts, fears, and feelings in a safe space. Writing doesn’t have to be eloquent to be purposeful.

Writing engages the left brain which is logical and rational and frees up the right brain to be creative, intuitive, and tap into emotions. This process can be beneficial to provide solutions to the challenges you are facing. Capturing daily activities creates several benefits:

Clarity – Writing can be therapeutic when it comes to processing thoughts and feelings. If you feel jumbled and don’t know what the next step is in your business, journaling can bring about clarity. Entrepreneurs can get stuck in the procrastination trap when they lose clarity of their goals or feel a lack of direction.

Confidence – Journaling about your successes leaves a trail of accomplishments. Writing out your achievements creates a track record you can refer back to in times of doubt. Building a business can be hard on your self-esteem, being intentional about capturing large and small milestones can be a powerful confidence booster.

Communication – Exploring negative feelings or painful emotions through journaling can improve communication skills. By acknowledging energy-sucking emotions, you take their power away so you can look at a challenge rationally and develop strategies for overcoming. Rehearsing difficult conversations beforehand can increase the probability of a positive outcome. 

Create Emotional Well Being – Documenting your life experiences allows you to know yourself more intimately. You can see patterns of what makes you happy, sad, or stressed out. You will be able to identify toxic situations and people that drain your energy. Raising your awareness can help you create a solid personal growth plan. 

Construct a happy life – By identifying the people and activities that please you, you can choose to eliminate the people and things that bring you stress. Seeing patterns in your life can help you develop routines and rhythms that are in alignment with your core values.

Life is short. Journaling regularly can help put life in perspective. Getting to know yourself on a deeper level will bring about life satisfaction, help you achieve goals more easily, and live a purpose-filled life. 

If you don’t already journal, here are some simple tips I use to make it a part of my daily routine:

Schedule time – I set aside time at the end of each day to capture my experiences. I prefer to journal in the evening when the house is quiet, so I can take my time without feeling rushed. Setting regular time will help create a habit of journaling.

Have a special place – I have an oversized chair that overlooks the valley. I like to sit and look out at nature while I journal. Grounding myself with the earth evokes my creativity when I write. Nature helps me get back into my body so I can be fully present. I also like to burn a candle or infuser with my favorite scents to calm my mind and allow me to concentrate.

What to write – I include a time of reflection each day. I note what I did well and what I could do better moving forward. I replay the challenges I faced and brainstorm possible solutions. I spend time thinking about my personal growth and the actions I’m taking. I also document any insights from podcasts I’ve listened to or books I’ve read that day. I evaluate my daily routine to see if I need to make adjustments. 

Creating intentional living strategies like journaling can have a powerful impact on your daily productivity. Journaling can help you uncover areas that are keeping you stuck like toxic relationships and time wasters. It can also provide a platform for brainstorming and goal tracking.

Before you embark on your journaling exercises, determine what you wish to gain from the activity. Having a goal in mind will help you structure the how and when so you can get the biggest impact from your efforts. Take control of your life by setting aside at least 20 minutes a day to journal, you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make.

#confidence #journaling #personaldevelopment #awareness

Journaling for Self-Discovery

Several years ago, I joined a six-week boot camp that a coaching friend was putting on. I agreed to join the group because I wanted to support her, but little did I know the fire that would be ignited in my soul.

I have always been a proponent of personal development. I have been an avid reader my entire life and I have used journaling off and on for years, but I didn’t really have a purpose for my writing.

Over the six weeks in the boot camp, we were encouraged to write everything out. At first, it seemed a bit awkward as I had always just used free-flowing writing as my method of getting things out of my head.  But, as we moved through the exercises, a more directed approach began to develop for me.

We had our first call for this year’s boot camp yesterday. It was fun to see how different I am this year than I was at this very time last year. I attribute part of the change to my dedication to consistently journaling with a purpose.

I ask my coaching clients to use this format because I know that it has brought about an incredible transformation in my life.  If you don’t already have a journaling practice, you might want to try some of my tips:

Create space to write – Make your own writing haven. Choose a place that is comfortable and private so you can be alone with your thoughts. Burn a candle or incense to create an ambience that is conducive to mindfulness and tranquility.

I like to write early in the morning or late in the evening when the house is quiet and I can focus. I find my journaling is superficial if I feel rushed or I have to deal with interruptions.

Be observant – When you sit to write be an observer in your life. Notice things that are working well for you. Joyfully celebrate those things in your life. Then, pay close attention to the things that are not working well in your life. Try to pinpoint the root cause. This doesn’t always happen at the first attempt.

If you are not accustomed to being real with yourself, getting to the birthplace of a feeling, thought or mindset can take time. Don’t rush it, allow your subconscious mind to percolate and bring the information to your conscious mind. This might come to you through a dream, a memory, or a song.

Continue to explore and be curious about your feelings. It might feel strange. That’s ok, keep with the process.

Be consistent – Set aside time daily to journal. Writing at the same time each day will help you develop a lifelong habit. Just like training in the gym, you will need to build up your journaling muscle with practice.

If you skip a day, practice self-compassion, and begin again. Put it in your calendar as a non-negotiable appointment with yourself. It is just as important as eating right, getting plenty of rest or going to the gym

As you write, you will begin to see patterns in your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. You will have a heightened awareness of how you make decisions and the impact they make on daily life.

Practice gratitude – Showing thankfulness keeps our energy vibrating at its highest levels. You can be grateful for small things like a beautiful sunrise, a letter that came in the mail, or a quiet moment during a hectic day. You can also show gratitude for being approved for a mortgage, a best friend’s engagement, or a promotion at work.
There is no right or wrong in expressing gratitude. Nothing is too small to mention, if it makes you feel good, celebrate it with gratitude. Like energy attracts like energy and the more you express gratitude the more things you’ll attract into your life to be grateful for.

Visualize the future – Keep your goals fresh in your mind. Record progress you are making in each area of your life: personal growth, love & romance, fund & recreation, professional/business, finances, health, and friends & family.

Acknowledge where you are and any challenges you’re facing in getting to the next milestone. Record what is holding you back and create a plan for pushing through. Note how and where you can ask for the support you need.

Change happens from the inside out, but before that can happen, we have to have clarity on who we are. Journaling helps us sort that out. Asking questions of ourselves as we journal will help us dig deep into understanding our core values and limiting mindsets as well as our hopes and fears.

Being able to see who we are on a soul level will also allow us to reveal who we are to others. One of our most basic needs as humans is to know others and to be known. Knowing ourselves on an intimate level will increase our ability to relate to others in a vulnerable intimate way.

What benefits do you hope to discover through journaling?

#bodyimage #selfesteem #confidence #empowermeent #journaling #selfdiscovery

Discipline of Journaling

As a coach, I use the tool of journaling with my clients all of the time. It can help build confidence as we build a history of things we have faced and triumphed over. It can reveal patterns of how we self-sabotage and limit ourselves. But, on a personal level, it can help us get to know who we are on a deeper, more intimate level.

As I continue to help clients transform their lives and feel empowered in all areas of their lives, there was one element I wasn’t touching on because it was taboo. I was afraid of offending them by delving too deep into their personal lives. Yes, you guessed it, our sexuality. If we are going to live a wholehearted life and live our best lives, we can’t leave that aspect of our life out.

What I have discovered is that we all have conditioning and filters that we look at our sexuality through. As we try to build deep and intimate relationships we get stuck. We don’t feel confident or secure to ask for what we want or don’t want in that area of our lives, we leave that to the partner we are with to determine how that will go. Many women I work with don’t know how to initiate those conversations.

There are many factors that hold us back, embarrassment, awkwardness, fear of rejection, or simply not knowing ourselves on a deep enough level to articulate those wants and needs. Women often take a backseat in the bedroom. It’s time we start a dialog with our partners to create the type of intimacy that gives and receives for the betterment of the couple. 

So you might be wondering, what does intimacy, sex and pleasure have to do with journaling? Let me share how it is all tied together. While growing up we were conditioned with certain ideas of what “good girls” do or don’t do. Most of the time, those statements weren’t accompanied by any explanation. So, when we started having desires of our own, if they fell in that “good girls don’t” category, we began to feel shame or guilt. We started to attach a negative label to ourselves. Those darn self-sabotaging gremlins are always hard at work in our subconscious mind!

As we examine our ability to build lasting intimate relationships, we have to look at our conditioning and ask ourselves where those thoughts and feelings originate from. Were the things we observed in our parents’ interactions? Were the ideas we picked up from friends at school? All of our beliefs have an origin and if we want to transform our lives, we have to get to the root of the thought so we can start reprogramming our self-talk.

TV and the media have a lot to say about sex but not so much about intimacy. Young girls get the idea that sex and intimacy are one and the same. An act that lasts 10 minutes and then you get back to what you were doing. When we are feeling lonely in a relationship we can’t figure out why because we are emulating what we see in the media.

No one is talking about what it takes to build intimacy. No one is saying that sex is just one component of intimacy. We are confusing terms and settling for less in this part of our lives because we don’t know what questions to ask. It starts by discovering our wants, needs, and desires through journaling. Our journals are a place for us to safely share our thoughts and feelings and discover who we are deep in our heart of hearts.

In the beginning, journaling can feel awkward. The thoughts and feelings we uncover might not feel comfortable, but that’s ok, don’t give up. Start to look for patterns in your thoughts, examine where those thoughts are coming from and how you feel about them. Ask yourself curious questions. Are you ok with how you feel? Do you want to change how you feel about that specific thing? If you make a change, how would your situation be different? What would the outcome be if you didn’t make a change? Is there a fear of talking about this with your partner? What if your partner isn’t ok with your new discovery? What if your partner isn’t supportive of your self-discovery journey? How can you invite your partner to join you in this season of exploration?

The list of questions could go on and on. There are no right or wrong questions to ask, the purpose of this exercise is to dig deep and discover more of who you are. Until you know who you are at your deepest level, you can’t teach your partner how to love you or share satisfying pleasure with you. Until you know yourself in your most intimate ways, you can’t possibly set expectations for your desires and growth in this area of your life. 
There is nothing shameful about wanting to know more about your physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual self. In a holistic setting, our sexuality encompasses all of those areas of our lives. Each area deserves special attention to cultivate and blossom. Once we can accept that part of our lives we are empowered to set expectations for what we want and need in our relationships in and out of the bedroom.

So, what are you waiting for…grab your journal and start writing!

#journaling #personaldevelopment #awareness #healing #empowerment