Figuring out what is important, allows us to focus and live the lives we really want.
When we think about money and being young parents, we often get stuck in the “stuff I think I need” mindset: “I now need a new car and bigger house, a good running pram and all of these new tech toys for my kids… “. You probably also say to yourself: “It’s helluva expensive and stresses me out as I am not sure that I can afford it, but I want the best for my kids, so let me just bite the bullet.”
This narrative can introduce a lot of financial stress into our lives and could easily enslave us to our paychecks, causing us to live from month-to-month paying bills and debt for “stuff we got told we needed” instead of what we really wanted. And before we know, it will affect our frame of mind and happiness, stealing from what we really wanted to do with our lives and who we wanted to be for our kids.
Something to remember about money is that no one actually wants money for the sake of it. We want the things that money allow us to do. And when it comes to your kids, we should understand what trade-offs we will be making when we spend money the way we do, and the impact that may have on our kids.
Take a little bit of time and think back to your own best childhood memories with your folks…
Then think about what it had to cost your parents to create those memories…
Often our most impactful childhood memories and what they cost are quite disconnected. Some of my fondest memories are of playing card games while camping with the family, or going on an epic hike with my dad. Or just having my dad next to the rugby field when I scored that try. We all know this and have heard it before: children crave those simple experiences and time with their parents, not the stuff we buy them or where we stay or what we drive. It always comes down to the time we spend with them and the experiences we share where they are the focus point.
More than anything else, money allows us to spend our time how you want to. And often, your kids need it to be with them. We should be very careful to give that up for “stuff that doesn’t really matter” in the end.
Life is actually quite awesome in that the best things in life is often free when it comes to experiences, as long as we can create the time to experience it.
So, stop thinking that you need to be less emotional about money. Money should feel emotional as it is connected to what we can “afford” to do with our time. It’s super important to be smart and structured about it.
Know the enemy: every business in the world wants you to buy the things they’re selling. They spend billions each year on marketing and advertising. Their job is to make you believe you want a bunch of stupid stuff you didn’t want before they told you that you want it. These people are extremely good at their jobs. They shape culture, they make you believe ideas like “cars mean freedom” and “your kids will be left behind if they don’t get exposed to this technology” and “expensive means quality”. But these ideas are not your own. They have been implanted in your brain to sell you things. They distract you from the things you really do care about.
Remember, life is about trade-offs, and we need to focus our minds and behaviours to be smart when it comes to our money and what we want it to do for us. Making the wrong decisions when it comes to debt and lifestyles can really steal from our families. Debt in particular can ruin us quickly, and it can steal years from you where you need to stress to get back ahead.
So, don’t let yourself get trapped. Don’t let people or businesses tell you that you “need stuff”, when it will steal from the things you really want — like awesome adventures with your family, lower stress levels and time to be there when it matters.
I know very well everything isn’t for free and that things like education can cost loads and that you may need a big car to get around. The point is just to understand that we need balance things. We need to decide what is important to us, and we need to know that there are smarter ways to do things.
This is quite mouthful and does not give you a lot of answers in terms of how to manage your money better, but we will get there. The first step is to make sure we understand what drives our decisions, to make sure we understand that money has trade-offs and to help us think clearly about what we want for our families and for ourselves. And if you still believe it is having a very big, expensive new car, that’s also fine. We just need to become more conscience of what we are giving up for that.
Take some time and make your own list of things you want your family to experience and the memories you want to build. Also add opportunities you want your kids to have and what you are passionate about.
If our goals are clear, and we know what we are working for, the execution becomes easier.
The next step will be to put our plans into action to free ourselves and to focus on the stuff that matters to us and our families.
At Hero Life we are happy to help young South African families with their finances or point you in the right direction.
Author: Jowyk Muller, Co-founder at Hero Life
#BeAHero #SuperSavvy #HeroParents