Last weekend, my husband and I flew to Texas for a family reunion. While on the flight, I finished reading Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book “Debt-Free Forever: Take Control of Your Money and Your Life” and completed some more of her exercises. In chapter 3, she has her readers make a master list of goals. Here’s what I came up with:
- Travel with my husband to the places my parents and grandparents were born.
- Travel internationally with my children
- Pay off the mortgage
- Live debt free
- Retire early
- Pay for both children’s undergraduate education
- Expose our children as much as we can and raise balanced, well-rounded children.
- Teach the kids a second language
- Visit my family and husband’s family every year
- Have my kids be connected with their extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles)
- Support family members as needed
- Give generously to charities I believe in
After creating this list of goals (or dreams depending how you look at it), she then tasks us to prioritize the list ideally with your spouse. Fortunately we were on an airplane, so my husband couldn’t ignore me by turning on the TV or run off to the gym as he has done in the past. Our discussion was very productive and I was surprised to realize that some of my goals were not his goals. While he felt I covered all goals he would have for the family, he disagreed with me on several points.
- He doesn’t want to make retiring early a goal. While he might want to switch careers, he sees himself working least until our son graduates college in 16 years.
- He doesn’t feel like we should pay for our children’s education. He believes that if we put enough effort into their current education and activities, they should be able to earn scholarships. If not, there’s always community college or the university I work for where I could get a 75% tuition discount if I continued working there.
- He believes we should focus on domestic trips for the kids until they get older and can appreciate the adventure. He also feels like learning a second language is nice goal, but not something we should put money into.
From our discussion, we both agreed that family, travel and being debt-free are our top priorities (in that order). We then came up the following short term and long term goals for the family:
- Summer 2017 – Take one family vacation next summer to California, visit my family on the east coast and take one international trip just me and him.
- Family visits – Alternate visiting my family and his family each year. Family will be the top priority in our family. His family would be Summer 2018.
- Payoff mortgage – The stretch goal is November 2021.
- International travel – Without a mortgage payment, plan on taking an international trip with the family until my son goes off to college (2022- 2026)
It feels good to be on the same page financially for a change! I’ve noticed in the week following this discussion, he has been more conscientious about spending money. He actually packed his lunch 3x this week!! Usually he has no idea when he’ll receive a bonus or how much it will be for. Tuesday he was able to tell me exactly when his next bonus was coming and exactly how much it was for! I am hopeful that our goal setting will usher in a better financial outlook for our family.