Ever get the feeling that there are not enough hours in the day? Or that your to-do list is expanding by the minute? As a full-time financial advisor and mother to young twin boys, I often wonder how everything will get done.
While all moms juggle numerous responsibilities and wear a variety of different hats, it is important to make time for family financial affairs. Not only can the modern-day mom add a significant amount of value to money management, but the benefits that come from staying involved are also immeasurable. Here are a few tips:
The birth of a child presents the perfect opportunity to make it known that you want to take an active role when it comes to family finances. I recommend expressing this sentiment as part of an open and honest conversation with your spouse. Even if you decide that one of you will take the lead on investments and the other on day-to-day spending and budgeting, what’s important is that you are both aligned and working in tandem. Make sure to have this conversation early, as disagreements over finances can cause conflict between new parents.
Should you exit the workforce for any extended period of time to raise kids, the shift will give you even more of a chance to assume the role as Family CFO. Remember, you may need to adjust budgets and spending habits to account for only one regular salary.
A recent Pew Research study found that moms in 2016 spent an average of 25 hours per week working, compared to only 9 hours in 1965. Like most working mothers, I have found that it can be rather easy and tempting to push items down the priority list. However, do not let money management and personal finance fall into this category. It’s easy to say that you don’t have time, or that your spouse can simply handle everything, but becoming disconnected from family financial management can create stress and vulnerability.
I also encourage all working mothers — regardless of income threshold — to save regularly for retirement. Anything that you can set aside only helps to fortify the family nest egg and preserve that ideal retirement.
Moms raising children on their own should try to do everything they can to ensure their family is adequately protected. Life insurance is an absolute must, as it provides a critical safety net. I also recommend establishing and stocking an emergency fund with three-to-six months-worth of living expenses. This offers some financial flexibility in the event you lose your job or come into a large and unexpected expense.
It is also critical to consider the possibility of divorce (or separation), which reinforces the arguments outlined above for maintaining involvement in family finances. Moms who have little to no insight into finances essentially have to start money management from scratch. One of the first steps any divorced mother should take is to update beneficiaries on important accounts and policies. I have seen far too many instances where an ex-spouse was still listed as the beneficiary on life insurance policies, 401(k)s or IRAs.
Regardless of age, life stage, or parenting style, adding basic components of financial management to that supermom skillset will only serve you well moving forward. Happy Mother’s Day!
Feature photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash.
Sabina Sewillo is a Family Wealth Advisor, Vice President and Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Chicago. The information contained in this column is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Sewillo was also named to Working Mother Magazine’s List of Top Wealth Advisor Moms List in both 2018 and 2017.