Too often, the words “planning for your future” lead only to a conversation about retirement. In reality, the challenge we all face is balancing how to meet long-term financial goals with today’s expenses. Yes, you should participate in your employer’s retirement plan, and you should have an emergency fund, but how do you do that while living fully today?
My spouse and I are blessed with three young, active kids. We are immersed not only in our own lives and events but keep up with an avalanche of activities for our children. It seems like every weekend we are traveling out of town to another tournament. This means paying for gas, food, and a hotel at every turn. It drains the checkbook, but we’ve found creative ways to stick to a budget. We bring snacks and meals, and use credit card and loyalty rewards points for hotels and gas when we can. Sometimes we only take part of the family, which gives my spouse or I valuable one on one time with each of the kids.
While we are mindful of what we call “right now expenses,” we also work toward our short-term financial goals. We still want to have family vacations and summer camps for the kids. In less than four years our oldest will have her license. After that, we’ll add a couple more drivers, plus college is right around the corner.
These are all great things and wonderful life experiences, but they cost money. The key is finding balance with those life experiences so it doesn’t feel like we’re trading off between living life now and sacrificing our financial future.