Financial literacy isn’t just something to talk to your kids about; it’s something that’s important for the whole family to understand. Here are twelve tips to keep your family financially healthy:
1. Track spending to know where your money goes. Our Budget tool tool in MyOCCU Online & Mobile helps identify where your money is being spent. From there, you can determine which expenses can easily be reduced or eliminated - and take immediate action.
2. Expect and prepare for emergencies. Aim for saving six months’ worth of expenses and set them aside in a liquid account that you can access without withdrawal penalties.
3. If housing costs are too high, consider downsizing, renting or home-sharing with friends or family members.
4. Communicate about family finances regularly with your spouse or partner, and any of your children you feel are old enough to be involved.
5. Do not try to "keep up with the Joneses."
6. Explore nanny care share, babysitting co-ops and subsidized daycare. Childcare is the single largest expense for most working parents, so investigate all reasonable options.
7. Explore whether you would be financially better off if one parent were to be a "stay at home" or a "work from home" parent.
8. Unless you have endless funds, accept that you can't buy everything you want for your child. This is often harder than it sounds.
9. Remember that you are the single greatest role model in your child's financial education. He or she will remember everything, from arguments about money to how you deal with debt. Teach good habits now.
10. Pay for unreimbursed medical expenses and dependent care with pretax dollars using a flexible savings account. Check with your employer for availability.
11. Commit yourself to spending within your means. A line of credit should never be confused with an emergency fund or extra income.
12. Remember - you are not being "cheap" for the sake of saving a few dollars. You are doing it for the well-being of your family over the long term, and will come out ahead by doing so.
Above all, don’t be hesitant to ask for professional help and support. The employees at Oregon Community Credit Union are readily available to assist you, in-branch or over the phone, to talk through prioritizing your expenses and understanding debt repayment options. And even if you’re only able to implement one or two of these tips currently, don’t worry - you’re on your way to being a financially healthy family!