After spending 10 years between the Navy and the Army, countless time apart, more doctor appointments then I can keep track of in hopes that someone could put my husband back together again; we made the choice to leave the only life we knew. A life that honestly was like living in a bubble. We said our goodbyes and embarked on an adventure that I had hoped for years to have, but as we started this journey the fear of reality set in. I don’t care how many classes we sat through, how much we heard from friends and family; nothing honestly set the right expectation for us becoming a civilian family. Our American Dream didn’t happen at once and I would be lying if I said a year later that it has finally shaped into what we had hoped it would.
We lacked serious financial planning when he said “no more Army”. Things are not a guarantee anymore; housing isn’t taken care of, no more leaving every light on in the house, or letting the kids run showers for as long as they like. I count our pennies at the store and I don’t frivolously buy snacks or name brand items. I weigh how sick anyone is before I call to for an appointment, because I see the dollar signs of co-pays, medications, and ER visits. As they say hindsight is 20/20. Had we taken a little more interest and seriousness into our finances we could have easily been prepared and part of the 30% of families who have an emergency fund put aside.
The MassMutual’s State of the American Family Study results struck a chord with our family and finances. It was an ugly reminder of all that we did wrong while he was in because we were careless with our finances. However they also just reinforced the goals we have made to succeed. After over 1,300+ families took their online survey, MassMutual was able to come up with the Top 5 Financial Goals:
- Paying off a mortgage
- Developing a plan for managing income in retirement
- Saving/investing for college education for your children or grandchildren
- Making sure my family will be taken care of financially in the event of my death
- Developing a comprehensive financial plan (i.e., a plan to address several financial goal
While the #1 top financial goal for families is to pay off a mortgage; ours is to gain one in 3 to 4 years. The #5 goal; developing a comprehensive financial plan is our number one now. After spending the past year struggling to keep our heads above the water we have finally hit a spot in life where we can slowly start digging ourselves out of this hole. We have put a strict hold on frivolous spending to free up the wasted money so that it can go towards the debt.
Saving/investing for college education for your children or grandchildren, is another goal I would LOVE to have set up. Approximately only 51% of women and 40% of men think that it is imperative to aid their children with school funding. We have a long hard talk with the Teen about college, bills, responsibility and expectations. She’s not clueless of where we are at financially, we’ve always been open with her. Sadly at this time I don’t know if we can help with hers. I’d like to think that we will be able to her second year of college but it’s not just her either. There are 6 kids in total, 3 of which will be heading to college in the next 3 to 5 years plus the hubs is going too. The dollar signs send me into a serious panic attack.
With that said my American Dream is pretty simple: In three years I want us to own land, somewhere between 3 and 5 acres. I would LOVE to own 20 or more acres but realistically that is pushing it. I dream of having a barn with some livestock, a decent sized chicken coop with a meat rabbit hutch nearby. I see my husband being free of everyday pain and enjoying work because he wants to not because he has to. Our Teen heading off to college and finally being “ok” with how life has gone. I see the little kids active even more in 4H then they are now. And I dream that we are okay financially. No more worrying about what bills get skipped so we can replace the tires or praying the duct tape on the hose in the truck will last a couple more weeks. No longer being a slave to the paycheck wait.
MassMutual Family Finances has many free resources you can use to help get your family on the right track. Saying there is always time down the road to get on track, is careless. Start now and save the hassle. I truly wish we had started sooner.