RAD Dad Playbook
Introduction to Playbook:
Finances and Family in the Time of Covid-19
Regularly, a Dad's life is filled with three tasks:
1. Taking care of his family
2. Finding fulfillment at work
3. Planning for the future.
Recently, a fourth has been added to the daily tasks of a Dad - keeping his family safe during the Corona-virus pandemic.
These tasks combine with other considerations/concerns/worries and keep many dads awake at night and preoccupied during the day as we seek to find a solution or even plan to handle the present and prepare for the future. While these tasks/concerns may seem to be a given for families and fathers, but they still do carry much weight on those who hold them. That is why I am starting this blog, I want to share my own experiences and lessons learned as a father, husband, project manager, and financial professional as I constantly seek ways to mitigate the impact of the challenges of the present and provide the best foundation for the future for my family and daughter.
These considerations may seem to be high level, and of course, we can delve deeper into the intricacies of each one. But I believe that that the most important thing is that families understand that these are the same concerns/thoughts that every family is going through and because of that, it is imperative to know that you are not alone! As I continue this blog, I will be focusing on specific concerns that I have come across and tools that I use that have helped organize and provide insight on the current situation. I'll share things from organizing your finances to staying true to the goals you have set for yourself while navigating life amidst a global pandemic.
I may not have all the answers, but I sure do have a lot of lessons learned! To share these, I have created a playbook to share my winning plays and strategies. As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any specific questions or want to learn more about a certain topic.
Luckily (or not, depending on your point of view) we live in the age of big data, meaning that everything we do/browse/watch/buy is tracked and mostly available for us to use (with the understanding that the companies that provide these services also have access to the same data). Because of this, modern dads can access levels of information and analysis tools that our own father's spreadsheets and check registers cannot compete with. Instead of needing to wait for the monthly credit card bill to see what our spending was for the month, we have real-time access via our mobile devices to see when and what our families are buying and also provide a way to track fraud if any of our cards go missing.
Make use of this data on a daily basis so you know where you are and where you need to be to achieve your goals!
Being connected to all of the data available to us can be a very powerful tool as we now have a way to develop weekly or daily budgets instead of monthly and have more agility to move money around to avoid fees and excessive charges. One thing to take into consideration, however, is just as you have the connection to this information, your credit card companies, banks and any services that they are connected to, have access to this information as well. I point this out not just as something to consider, but to also realize that these companies have been using this data for many years already, so take advantage of it!
As we start to utilize these data points available to us, one headache that can occur is remembering all of the banking passwords, credit card passwords, and any security questions that we need to remember. While this is necessary from a security perspective, there are tools available to help alleviate this potential headache. One direction to take is utilizing a password service, such as LastPass, or what I personally use, Dashlane (this is not an Ad - I just really like this service). These services help store and keep your passwords secure and updated and you just need to remember one very strong password instead of remembering a whole bunch of weaker ones.
Another strategy to help manage a budget across multiple accounts is to use a budgeting site such as Intuit’s Mint.com (again, not an Ad, just really like their product). You can connect all of your banking accounts, credit cards, savings, investments and also track your assets so you can get a fairly accurate picture of where you and your family stands regarding income, expenses and total net worth. If someone asked me for the first steps to developing a financial plan, I would advise them to collect all of their accounts and track them using services such as Mint. Apart from reducing the headache of needing to track separate sites/passwords, once you connect your accounts, you will be able to get a snapshot of them on one really nice, user-friendly dashboard.
As we start a new year, a new career, a new relationship, or whatever, use this checkpoint in your life to review your goals and dreams. Many times, these reviews help us determine how close we are to the person we thought we were going to be. During this time for reflection, I would suggest adding/ensuring that you review how close you were to your financial hopes and dreams. Many of us make goals such as, I want to be married by x, have this y job, or live in a z large house, but it is just as important to have a financial version of those goals. Make goals such as, I want to have x debt paid off this year, or I want to have a down payment for a house, or I want to ensure my retirement strategy is setup (boring I know, but just as important). I suggest starting with the same strategy as many other goals, make weekly goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals. Tracking these goals becomes very simple using tools such as Mint.com or even many of the regular banking sites have these built-in now.