If you’re a man and you have a family, juggling priorities can lead to frustration. We know what we value but the world isn’t exactly family-friendly. We have questions and priorities, and they can be hard to manage.
“I spend too much time and too much money chasing after things that don’t make me happy,” Joe said. “We work hard to buy things we don’t need then we don’t have time for each other. But consumption is just how the world works. I need help sorting things out.”
- So how do we live in the world of confused values?
- How do we raise our children to make choices they won’t regret?
- Do our family values line up with how we allocate our resources?
- We have questions and setting priorities is the first step.
Check out the following five questions we need to ask ourselves about our priorities. Ask the questions about money, then ask them about time:
1. What actually makes us happy as a family?
Believe it or not, there is a World Database of Happiness (wellbeing and contentment). Yes, National Geographic has reported on it. Try keeping a happiness journal. Simply list activities (eating dinner together, a trip to the park, quiet morning at home…) and rate them 1-5 stars.
2. Do we have an accurate family budget?
This means keeping track of income and spending. It’s impossible to gauge what eats up our resources without clear data. Get a basic budget program such as Quicken, or simply write everything down for three months. Then categorize. Now you are ready to move forward.
3. What are the 5 largest expenses every month?
Other than mortgage and insurance, exactly where are the big chunks of money going? One family realized they spent $300-500 each month eating out! Another noted two car payments plus insurance ate up more than $1,000.
4. Does our family budget (money and investment of time) reflect our values?
This is a key area. If satisfaction and happiness come from your answers to #1, are those things a consistent priority? Call a family meeting when this information becomes clear. Then develop a family strategy for realigning the family culture to reflect what you really value.
5. If we want to give more to help others, what can we give up that we don’t need?
This is where a clear budget helps. One family limited eating out to $100 per month then reinvested in family feast night at home in order to support a food pantry. They also traded down to used cars they could afford, cut out $6 specialty drinks, then sponsored several international children with the savings.
We need to keep our eyes open, huddle up, and take the world on as a family.This re-assessment of values and re-alignment of priorities is an ongoing conversation we absolutely must have with ourselves, our spouse, and our children at regular intervals. Not that our values are a moving target so much as this world comes at us hard and it never stops. We need to keep our eyes open, huddle up, and take the world on as a family.
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Based on how we spend our time and money, what do you think is most important to our family?”