Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Weekly family finance meeting

One of the first things we introduced after my wake-up call was a weekly family finance meeting.  I had been incredibly reluctant to suggest this to my husband, partly because I knew he would take me up on it.

Don't get me wrong, I hate the idea.  Viscerally.

I don't want to face our finances every week.

I don't want to be told every week that I had to stop spending so much and work more. 

I don't want to be held to account. 

And I certainly don't want to have to spend time talking about money when I could be watching Modern Family (or, yes, Battlestar Galactica).

But, I have to reluctantly admit that the weekly meeting has proven to be a good idea for lots of reasons.

  • Instead of having a big panic about money every few weeks, I now have a  medium-sized panic about money every single week. Facing this issue every single week means I am more likely to make lasting changes to my behaviour than if I confront it on an ad-hoc basis. (For the same reason, I weigh myself every day and log my weight using the Libra app.)

  • If we don't manage to talk about everything we need to before we succumb to the lure of the goggle box, we have next week. My husband keeps an agenda going on Google Drive and we keep a record of what we want to talk about. 

  • My husband also keeps a spreadsheet of our finances on Google Drive, which includes forecasts for the next couple of years.  During the meeting, we revisit the assumptions on that spreadsheet, check out our future, see what has to happen to keep us in the black, and decide what aspect we want to focus on.  We also try to use the Money Manager feature on LloydsTSB although it is kind of flaky.

  • We do actually do the things that we decide in the meeting, because we know we'll have another meeting next week and we know the other person will ask us about the thing we said we'd do.  We are both professionals, so we don't want to be embarrassed by not delivering or letting it slide. So we do actually look into getting better mortgage deals, changing our utilities, rewriting our wills or whatever we decide needs attention.  

It is quite likely that we will never stop having to talk about money.  BORING.  But necessary.

Why? Because people who have a lot of money have to actively manage it (to a certain extent at least).  We don't presently have a lot of financial security but we hope to one day, and so we have to be people who will actively manage our money. And on the flip side, if we DON'T manage to get ourselves on a more secure footing, we will definitely have to keep talking about money. So either way, it is here for keeps.

This meeting system will help us to communicate better about money in general and stand us in good stead for years to come. I hope. 

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