My husband Bryan and I have been married 10 years. We share similar financial values and have a financially “healthy” household. Yet our backgrounds couldn’t be more different.
My dad graduated with an engineering degree, and my mom has been a CPA for decades. When my older sister and I were young, mom stayed at home with us for a few years and my dad was determined to financially provide for our family. He rose the ranks in manufacturing, but the 80s and 90s were not kind to the manufacturing industry. My dad lost several jobs as plants shut down, and he had two choices: move to a new city with immediate employment or search for a new job in the same location. My dad chose the first option. I lived in Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia before my 9th birthday. We settled in Wisconsin to be closer to extended family, and I remained in a suburb of Milwaukee from 4th grade until high school graduation.
One of my most challenging experiences happened in seventh grade. My parents were determined to stay in Wisconsin even though my dad lost his job again. He remained unemployed for about a year and a half, and my mom’s salary wasn't enough to cover family expenses. My parents’ thoughtful and diligent money habits were a saving grace. Outside of dad’s unemployment, we enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. We traveled out of state for vacations about once a year. My parents also financially contributed to 1/3 of my college costs.
Bryan’s situation was quite different. Neither of Bryan’s parents were college educated. His dad worked his way up to a managerial position at a local auto center and has been there his entire career. Money was always tight for Bryan’s family. Vacations were sparse and typically in-state. Yet his parents insisted on putting Bryan and his siblings through private school until age 18. Bryan worked as a caddie, exceled in sports, and earned above-average grades; he was awarded a 4-year full ride scholarship through Evans Scholars to attend University of Missouri-Columbia.
Two Shall Become One
You know the rest of the story. Bryan and I meet, fall in love, get married, and have kids. As Bryan and I reflect on financial health, it’s important that we create synergy around money values. We agree that we want to raise financially responsible children. Even if we can “afford” it, we don’t want to buy everything our kids desire. We want them to have part-time jobs in high school. We want them to pay for some of college. We want them to value and appreciate money but without idolizing it.
If you’re a parent, financial health likely means more than paying credit card balances in full and setting money aside for emergencies, retirement, and education goals. It entails financial wellness for the WHOLE family.
So, what does financial health mean to you? Please share your comments below.