I was quoted this week on Reuters Money regarding the financial challenges faced by parents of triplets/multiples.
Certainly, there are some unique and often surprising financial considerations for parents of multiples, and I thought I'd elaborate on the article's content a bit to highlight an idea that I think is important to overall well-being: the idea of financial flexibility.
My wife and I were married for about seven years before she got pregnant. We both had jobs that paid well, and we traveled internationally a fair amount but otherwise were relatively frugal. For most of that time we basically lived on one salary and invested the other, with the vague notion that it would buy us some flexibility down the road. I was specifically thinking in terms of children, but that flexibility could have applied to losing a job, a disability, or other unforeseen disruptions that are part of life. In fact, my wife was planning to continue working at least part-time after having a child. Fortunately, she's frugal by nature.
As it happened, we had three children at once, and the idea of my wife going back to work became far less appealing. Our vague notion of financial flexibility crystallized, and we adjusted.
The other thing that the birth of my children helped crystallize for me was the idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Investing and personal finance had been a passionate hobby throughout my adulthood, and I had a fuzzy plan to retire early and provide investment advice to others. The arrival of our triplets was a key driver in convincing me that there's no time like the present to chase your passion, and it also illustrated in no uncertain terms that a need existed for everyday people to get competent financial advice. I also wanted to be a big part of my kids' life and wanted more control overy my schedule. So I started my own financial planning firm, and I haven't looked back. Our kids are now in first grade, and my wife has returned to work, but the flexible financial foundation we established before she got pregnant allowed us to not only survive the addition of triplets to our family, but to dictate the terms of how we managed it. We've made a lot of sacrifices, but we value what we've gained much more than what we've sacrificed.
People every day face financial hiccups and breakdowns for which they could not possibly have planned. You can't plan for everything. However, the earlier you start practicing the most basic of financial planning fundamentals, the more prepared you'll be for whatever life brings. That fundamental concept? Live Below Your Means.