If you feel like your family is a little off center when it comes to money, you aren’t alone. I’ve met very wealthy people who find it difficult to strike a balance and I’m convinced this isn’t just a function of how much money they have. Even though I feel like my family is fairly secure, each member of the clan thinks about finances a little differently. This can create problems when it comes to deciding how to spend, how much to save and how to invest.
We are still in the process of working all this out and my guess is that this process never ends. Here’s the plan I am going to suggest we put in place:
Step 1 – Prepare
Each family member privately writes down what they like and dislike about their own financial behavior. That includes the money we earn and spend. The writing will include a self-assessment of our understanding and attitudes about money too. Then each person writes about how they imagine these behaviors impact the other members of the family. If there are negative consequences for others, each person writes what they think they should do to fix it.
Then each person answers the same questions about each of the other family members. On top of that, it makes sense to share at least some financial numbers with everyone so they have context.
Step 2 – Show Time
The family has a pow-wow and each person shares their writing. First, they talk about their own financial strengths and weaknesses. Then each person in the family will speak about their feelings about the others. This must be done in a loving non-accusatory manner or it will blow up. That’s one thing I am concerned about.
Once everyone has a turn to speak each person responds to the others’ concerns and tells them:
a. what they are going to do about it or
b. why they think it’s not a problem
Hopefully, this will lead to some dialogue. If we reach an impasse, we’ll just defer and focus on those things we do agree on that need addressing. We’ll need an impartial moderator to make sure this works.
Last, each member of the family picks an accountability partner and sets up bi-monthly meetings. They agree on a plan and they track the person’s execution along that plan. They celebrate success and come up with a strategy to address whatever is lacking.
4. Family Progress Meetings
Each month we’ll meet as a family to discuss the successes and the failures. We’ll encourage each other to keep up the good work and try to help each other overcome obstacles. We’ll go back to step 2 and allow everyone to chime in on those things they are working on, what they appreciate about the other people and what changes they’d still like to see.
I don’t really know if this is going to work but I’m going to give it a try. Don’t get me wrong. There are a few things that aren’t working but we don’t have a crisis. This isn’t a huge problem for my family thank goodness. But my experience tells me that small problems can blow up over time if not addressed. The solution is communication, understanding and action.
I’m kind of excited about this process. Do you think this will work? What changes would you make to this plan?