Why is a blogger, who is supposed to write about fatherhood, posting stories about money? Because in the end, money serves an important purpose: to enable one to be a more involved parent.
Framed with this perspective in mind, I hope you’ll consider the logic behind my premise.
At some point in your life, you probably associated success with ‘things’ – nice cars, a big house, cash to buy whatever you want at any given moment. That’s lovely, and if it motivated you to work and save harder, good for you.
Now you’re a dad… Put that stuff aside. All of it. Forget that BMW you want or the four-bedroom house with room for a pool in the basement. These represent material things, and yes, they are nice, but in many cases unnecessary.
Money, if managed properly, affords two key things that are harder to come by as you get older – free time and options. The word ‘option’ is even more critical; if you save your money, it provides the option of having more free time to spend with your family.
Don’t believe me? If you own a home and have to maintain it, how much free time would you and your spouse have if you hired someone to do landscaping, mow the yard and all the repairs a home needs year-in and year-out? Probably a lot. The same holds true if you rent a townhouse – imagine if you could afford someone to clean the house once a week? It would be nice, right?
When you consider the money you have to spend – if it doesn’t result in freeing up more time to ‘spend’ with your family, what’s the point? If you’re just as busy around the house with a BMW in the garage (and a $400+ lease payment due every month), are you doing it for status or something else?
If you own a quaint three bedroom, but your ego is telling you it’s time to upgrade to a five-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac, will those monthly payments make it impossible to save for retirement or junior’s college? If so, what’s the point?
If you stay humble and limit extravagant expenses, you’ll have more options down the road. If you buy a 50-inch LED TV versus a 60-inch, it saves a little. If you need a new smartphone, the iPhone XS is fantastic – the XR is $250 cheaper.
With more money saved, you have the option to upgrade a home if you need to do so. With more money saved to afford a bigger down payment, you can own a bigger home without paying a higher mortgage. You may save enough to buy the BMW outright, but doing it after you’ve saved enough money to afford junior’s college… that’s a bigger priority.
Having to work a few extra years to afford college, when your son/daughter is in college, consumes a ton of free time. You’ve earned those extra years of retirement, why spend your hard-earned money on ‘things’ when you don’t necessarily have to?
That’s what it is all about – providing yourself more options down the road and affording yourself more free time to spend with the kids right now. When you’re a dad, there’s nothing better than that.