Family Matters: Money and Meaning
We’re back with another instalment of our year-long deep dive into how to identify and articulate your values, and then how to put them into action using all of the financial planning tools at your disposal.
Our series alternates between starting with a particular value (like safety & security) and embedding it into every part of your financial plan, followed by starting with a particular financial planning tool (like cash flow planning), and bending it into service to support all your values.
This month, more than a year into a global pandemic, we’re thinking hard about family: those dear ones we haven’t hugged in far too long, those we will never hug again, and those who have been right next to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 365 days and counting….and counting…
What Does Family Mean To You?
Like everything else we do here at Spring, we don’t care even the tiniest bit about what anyone else thinks “family” means. We only care about what it means to YOU.
Family is, of course, a bit of a loaded topic, and your definition of what family is and what it means to you may have evolved significantly over the years, maybe even on purpose. Your family might include only your partner and kids, full stop. Or it might be a web of relations that includes elders, aunts, cousins, and nephews you’ve never even met (yet). You might have carefully chosen your family as an adult, or your definition of family might include the ancestors who came before you and the generations who will follow you. Your cat might be your family.
If you feel a responsibility to your family, whoever they are and whatever that responsibility means to you, we have excellent news: there are so many financial tools that you can use to care for them!
Common (And Not So Common) Ways To Support Your Family
The way you spend and save your money today is an immediate and probably kind of obvious tool you can use to live out your values. In fact, you’re probably already using cash out of your own pocket to feed and shelter at least one family member, and maybe even setting some aside for someone else’s future education or retirement spending.
Wealth transfer is also a common way to care for family members, perhaps by building up (or maintaining) a portfolio of assets that can be passed along to future generations. Investing in assets that will slow or repair the destruction of our climate is another way you can use your portfolio to live out this particular value.
You may have a business that you’ve created or one that was passed down from another generation. The legacy of that business might be incredibly important to you and your family. Structuring how (or if) this business transitions to the next generation is vital to business families, as are the deep and meaningful discussions, facilitated by a professional before you even start implementing solutions. This can ensure that the meaning that your family has built within the business lives on, even if it looks a little different in each generation.
Many people don’t realize it, but investing in appropriate disability and critical illness insurance is an extremely powerful way to care for family. A few years ago, we discussed this very thing in an episode of Because Money (skip to minute 36 to hear it), and came to the conclusion that neglecting your personal risk management planning is equivalent to informing your family that THEY are your disability insurance! They might be glad to step up…but if caring for them is a value of yours, you might not feel so hot about it.
We’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating (and repeating and repeating): planning for your own eventual departure is truly one of the most loving and thoughtful things you can do for your family.
Family Is Important… to Everyone
Just like safety and security, family means some kind of thing to everyone. It might be a big deal, it might be a smaller deal, but it’s a deal of some sort. You demonstrate that value in the design of your own personal and business finances, one way or another. We recommend that you don’t leave that up to someone else, or on the backburner for another day. Spend the time to review your approach to family, and understand exactly how you want to invest – or not invest – in it, as the case may be. Then, talk to your Spring Plans team – we love helping you operationalize your values.