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- The best way to start preparing your finances for a family is to get on the same page about money, says one financial planner.
- Financial planner Michael Anderson recommends accomplishing this with a monthly family finance review, where you talk about your upcoming expenses, review the previous month’s spending, and review your income, goals, savings, and progress.
- That monthly meeting can start with a question Anderson says might be "the scariest statement in the world": "Hey honey, can we review your credit card statement together?"
- Looking for professional help with your money? SmartAsset’s free tool can help find a licensed financial advisor near you »
A family is a huge financial commitment. A middle-income family will spend nearly a quarter-million dollars raising a child to age 17, according to US Department of Agriculture data. When you add on the cost of college, it is easy to see how raising kids is an expensive endeavor.
That’s why you want to plan for it.
If you want to start a family, "start by having a monthly family finance review," says financial planner Michael Anderson from California-based Maranantha Financial. "The goal is to be working in the same direction toward the same goals. Talk about your upcoming expenses, review the previous month’s spending, review your income, goals, savings, and progress."
Start by getting clear on the state of your finances today.
"The best place to start is to understand your expenses," says Anderson. "The scariest statement in the world might be, ‘Hey honey, can we review your credit card statement together?’ But keep in mind, it’s not about your money, it’s about our family’s financial success."
When you sit down to go through your family finances, there are key areas to focus each month. "A good family financial review will help your household organize, prioritize and optimize," Anderson explains.
Major focus areas include monthly income and expenses, large one-time expenses, planning for upcoming large expenses, investment planning, and looking for problem areas.
"Monthly is the best schedule for a family financial review," says Anderson. "It’s important because most of your bills come monthly. Your housing expense, your credit card statement, your phone bill, most utilities," and other expenses typically have a monthly cadence, he says.
"It’s nice to total up all of the household expenses for the month and compare them to your income for the month," he says. "At a minimum, one member of the family should be aggregating this data."
It takes two partners to start a family, and it is important for those partners to be on the same page when it comes to financial habits, planning, and goals. It is vital to be open and honest with each other on all financial matters.
Focus on areas where you agree and have aligned values to start. "I see couples every day," Anderson says, "and there is a certain vulnerability to meeting with someone to discuss where you spend your money."
Early on, conversations may be challenging. But sticking with it is important, Anderson says. "Many households struggle to have meaningful and relevant discussions about money. It becomes very difficult, very quickly. I empathize with the challenges of working towards having regular family financial reviews."
But to pay off debt, pay for your kids’ college, and reach the retirement you want, you have to work together, Anderson says. "You both want to be pulling the rope in the same direction."
Looking for professional help with your money? SmartAsset’s free tool can help find a licensed financial advisor near you »
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