When I was growing up, my parents never talked about money. The bills would come in and be stacked up on the arm of the couch until my mother paid them on Sunday nights, after the kids were in bed. There were only three things I knew about my parents’ finances: 1) They saved all year for us to take a three-week vacation in the car to visit family in Virginia and Illinois; 2) We were middle-class; and 3) After my dad had his first heart attack when I was in the eighth grade, the common expression became, “Do you think money grows on trees?” Of course I didn’t, but I also didn’t know why I couldn’t have a coke after basketball practice anymore.
Now that I am a business owner and the financial support for my family, I understand the dramatic fluctuation of cash flow. And, unlike my parents, my 6-year-old children are getting a handle on it too. They are, after all, the shareholders of my business.
My daughter and I have a daily ritual. Each morning she bids me farewell to “make some money.” Each evening she asks me, “Mommy, how was your day?” and “Did you make any money?” One day I responded with, “Yes, we made $5,350 today.” She inquired, “Is that a lot of money?” I replied, “Yes, to some people that is a lot; however, Mommy didn’t make her goal today.” Sometimes when she asks, I tell her that we didn’t make any money that day because it was a business development day, when I meet other professionals instead of clients.
I am comfortable having these conversations with my 6-year-olds because I am working for my family and they deserve to know the status of the business, just like any other shareholder of a business or stocks or financial investments. Furthermore, it helps my family understand why I am “going to work” instead of staying home with them. Lastly, they are learning real business skills, which may serve them and me well in the future (especially if they want to take over my business).
Who are your shareholders? A spouse? Children? Grandchildren? Yourself as you plan for retirement? Whomever it is, be honest and open with them about the state of affairs of the business and finances. This will keep you motivated to set, review and reach your goals.
Victoria L. Collier, Co-Founder, Lawyers with Purpose, LLC, www.LawyersWithPurpose.com; Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation; Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; Founder and Managing Attorney of The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC, www.ElderLawGeorgia.com; Co-Founder of Veterans Advocates Group of America; Entrepreneur; Author; and nationally renowned Presenter.