Editor’s Note: As part of a special project on The PerkStreet Blog, we’re offering free question and answer columns on Saturdays with Customer Columnists Clint and Katy Davis of Davis Coaching. If you have a question you’d like to submit to get advice from these financial coaches, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question 1: Should We Include Our Kids in Financial Conversations?
Dear Clint and Katy,
My husband and I have two teenagers and we really do want to teach them how to properly manage money. Do you think it’s a good idea to include them in our financial conversations?
- Cari, FL
Two teenagers? Bless your heart. But seriously, it sounds like you and your husband are right on track with wanting to teach them how to manage money well. I think it’s a great idea to include them in your discussions, but with a couple exceptions. In extreme situations, like if you were facing foreclosure, your kids might not be emotionally ready to consider such decisions. If you’re fortunate enough to be very wealthy, including your kids in these discussions might send the wrong message; you want to teach them about hard work, budgeting, spending wisely, giving, etc… You don’t want to put your kids in situations they’re not ready to handle or manage, so use your wisdom and discretion.
Walking them through your typical monthly budget will show them how much money is coming in and how much goes out. They’ll see exactly how much it costs to buy groceries and to keep the lights on. When they can see it right there in front of them, they’ll start to appreciate how hard you work, and understand why you always tell them to turn off the lights when they leave a room and to not waste food.
As long as you and your husband are having a mature discussion – not yelling and throwing things – it’s good for your kids to hear and experience the financial conversations. Parents who never teach their kids to properly manage money, and never let their kids handle money, run a high risk of letting them become financially irresponsible adults in a difficult financial world.
Question 2: Do We Need to Downsize?
Dear Clint and Katy,
My wife and I are expecting our first child. We’d like for her to stay home with the baby, so we will be losing almost half of our income. We’ve looked over our budget and we can afford to stay in the house, but things would be very tight. I will make $44,000 this year with a potential year-end bonus of $22,000. Our house payment is $1,530 per month. Should we downsize to a smaller home so we can live more comfortably?
- Gary, MN
Congratulations on the new addition to the family! That’s a very exciting time! It can be a very stressful thing to stay at home and lose an income. But as you point out, given the circumstances, it is definitely worth considering.
If you were assured a $66,000 income, your house payments would be a breeze. Unfortunately, you can’t really count on that “potential bonus,” and from your guaranteed base income, more than half of your take-home pay (after taxes) will go to your house payment. In order to stay in the house and allow your wife to stay home with the baby, you would probably need to take a 2nd job. You should also save any bonus you do receive to subsidize your income, just to have a realistic chance of making ends meet.
I do love the idea of Mom staying home with the kid—especially a baby—whenever possible. But when you get down to brass tax, you and your wife need to decide if it’s worth the 2nd job and intense budget sacrifices it will take to stay in this house. Would you rather have this house along with less time at home and added financial stress, or would you rather move to a smaller house and have more time at home and less financial stress?
The idea of moving may not sound like a lot of fun; but it’s definitely no fun to live in slavery to your house payment.
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Clint and Katy Davis are PerkStreet Customer Columnists and founders of Davis Coaching. As financial coaches, their passion is helping people become and stay debt free! Their personalized coaching is designed to help you get your financial life where you want it to be. Like personal trainers for your finances, they can help you develop a specific plan to achieve your goals, and provide the expertise and accountability to get you there. If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, visit Davis Coaching online, check out the Davis Coaching blog, and connect with Clint and Katy on Twitter and Facebook.