While marriage and kids offer many priceless benefits, having to deal with family finances is probably not one of them. Making and managing money as a single person was hard enough!
Navigating your financial relationship with your significant other can be stressful. Then throw kids into the mix, and it’s no wonder 15% of Gen Xers (35-54) and 36% of Millennials (18-34) argue about finances every week. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Through the internet and social media today, money experts use colorful, engaging methods to deliver financial education right to the palm of our hands. Rebecca Maher, aka The Fiscal Mum, is one such financial expert based in Australia who specializes in helping people manage their family finances.
Rebecca’s first experience working as a financial planner left her disenchanted. She felt the industry’s prime motivation was closing the sale rather than understanding the real needs of the client. She felt that most financial advisory services only had a handful of cookie-cutter products they were trying to push on people—primarily high net worth individuals and retirees who already had accumulated money and assets. The industry was neglecting people who needed guidance most. So she jumped ship to pursue other opportunities.
However, Rebecca’s perspective changed when she started having kids. Surrounded by other new “mums,” she recognized a glaring need for financial advice among those whom the traditional financial planning industry was neglecting. Although Rebecca’s first impression of the industry had been negative, she felt compelled to give it another shot, albeit on her terms.
Becoming The Fiscal Mum
With a formal education in business studies and international finance, one might assume Rebecca had launched her financial planning business with ease. But she reminds us that business finance is vastly different from personal finance. She says much of her personal finance knowledge is either self-taught or from lessons learned from her father. Australia’s government and not-for-profit organizations have some initiatives to advance financial literacy in school settings, but they’re mostly ad hoc rather than part of a formalized curriculum.
Through her father’s fiscal responsibility, Rebecca learned that when used properly, money is a tool that can help you live the life you want. Rebecca thinks many people resist seeking out financial advice because they believe planning for the future means making serious sacrifices today. Rebecca’s goal is to help families balance these two competing interests.
In her work with mothers (and couples), Rebecca finds that increasingly women are seeking the empowerment that comes from financial literacy and informed decision-making when it comes to family finances. They don’t want to rely solely on a spouse. She thinks the “mompreneur” trend with mothers starting their own businesses has become so popular because women seek the validation that comes from contributing to household income. Otherwise, many women report feeling inferior and that they don’t have the right to a say in household financial decision-making.
However, Rebecca emphasizes to her clients that properly managing family finances is just as important for creating and maintaining wealth as the number of dollars that their spouses or themselves bring through the front door. We’re socialized to keep chasing more money and the status that comes from having it. But the vital importance of backend monitoring is often left out of the conversation.
Introducing Responsible Money Concepts to Your Kids
Although her two daughters are still young—one is a toddler and the other an infant—Rebecca already is planning how she’ll impart financial wisdom to them. For young children, Rebecca encourages taking advantage of “teachable moments.” When you’re in the supermarket, for example, you can introduce the concept of budgeting by telling your kids about the price of items in your shopping cart.
Then as Rebecca’s kids get older and start earning money with their first jobs, she plans to sit them down more formerly to discuss budgeting, saving, opportunity cost, etc. Also, she plans to teach them about investing through the small investment portfolios that she’s already started for them. Rather than teaching her kids using theoretical money, she believes her lessons will be much more engaging and impactful using their own money!
With one of the highest levels of household debt in the world relative to GDP, Australia has a lot of families in need of financial assistance who can’t afford traditional financial advisors. Non-for-profit organizations and government programs exist, but many are overburdened and under-resourced. And the situation is similar in many other countries. But fortunately, people like Rebecca are out there helping people who need it most, including her own children.
Thank you to Rebecca and everyone else around the world working so hard to advance financial literacy and security in your communities!
Learn more from The Fiscal Mum: