You’re still on a financial site, and we are still talking about finances, but as you dive into a new realm of little people, marriage, and some big purchases, it’s easy to lose that sense of control that you had in abundance just a few years ago.
The fact is that each of the following things are tied strongly to your financial wellbeing. Your ability to produce at work, your ability to save, your ability to not stress eat Pizza Hut five nights a week. It’s ok, we all have those days, but if you’re feeling like it’s consuming your life, try one of the following:
1. Scheduled “Cheat” Days
You’ve heard of food cheat days, well we want you to take life cheat days! According to one New York Post article, it takes six years for a child to enter an age where parents begin to get a break. And so, many parents do nothing but count down the days, feeling stressed, exhausted, and sometimes even depressed during the early years of having children. Combined with new words like “mortgage”, and “insurance”, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. While just a few years prior you could enjoy a night out any time, now you need to plan it, and plan it you should! Often the only way to get a break is to force it, and yes, that might even mean paying for a sitter.
Some breaks cost money, some are free, but the payoff is always rest. That rest will not only get you through the next week, but it will also help you brush off the stressful moments and find the joys that you can only find parenting little people.
To do: Find a friend who can schedule in a coffee once a week at the exact same time for an hour. Chances are they need the break too.
DON’T LEAVE! I know that with everything going on how are you ever going to find time for exercise, kids or no kids?, getting to the gym is always a chore, plus, Dad Bods are totally in right now.
This is not about getting in more reps, flat abs, or a faster mile, it’s about one word: endorphins.
Endorphins are a chemical created within the brain that reduce stress and pain, and they’re naturally produced during exercise. What kind of exercise? Any! You can walk, you can run, you can play golf, you can wrestle with your kids, you can do yoga, and yes, you can go to the gym. The point is, an elevated heart rate paired with some moving muscles makes your life better every time.
To Do: Get out that stroller and walk! The easiest physical activity that can be done with a friend, a spouse, an audio book, or to music, and doubles as time spent with your children,
3. Financial Planning
Money continues to be the number one stress for couples in Canada, and it doesn’t end in your 20s. The reduced purchasing power of our dollar, combined with higher debt loads has put a huge strain on your ability to live now, let alone plan for the future, but there are some things you can do early on to get ahead.
Now is the best time to learn about taxes, and they will never again be this simple! Get educated on tax credits vs tax deductions and how you can leverage these to keep money in your pocket. Another area is learning about how much money you actually need to live, and if you potentially could put any away.
This is the best time to start thinking about your goals, which often are based on your financial plan. Do you want to go to Disneyland in five years, or buy your first home? Is a college education for your kids important to you, or would you like to spend that money on their sports and activities?
To Do: Start a spreadsheet and record your bank balances and debt on a weekly basis. No fancy categories, just numbers. This will help you feel confident that you know roughly how much should go in and out on any given month
But There is So Much to Do
The key to working on any of these is to pick one, and then pick an aspect of it that isn’t going to just stress you out more. The end goal is just to take those late night “I really should starts” into “I’m glad I did that today.”