Almost a year ago, I wrote five entries on my five biggest financial fears at the time. Here they are, one more time:
#1. Buying a home We lived in an apartment at the time, and the idea of purchasing a home scared me to death. I didn’t know the first thing about purchasing a home and the thought of the overwhelming debt almost paralyzed me.
#2. Investment risk I knew next to nothing about investing, but watching the stock market lurch about and imagining my money going up and down rapidly like that scared me quite a bit.
#3. Roth IRAs First, I didn’t know anything about them. Second, I had just started investing and the risk of it wasn’t very palatable to me at first. Third, I was feeling as though my retirement savings was inadequate.
#4. Buying a car My wife’s car was actually in worse shape then than it is now, so I was really concerned about coming up with the money to buy one.
#5. Estate planning I was really still in the process of understanding the responsibilities that faced me as a parent, so I was starting to get concerned about what would happen to my son if I were to suddenly pass on.
Looking back on that list, I’m amused about how much has changed. The house buying was much easier than I would have ever believed, for starters, and that worry is completely gone. For the Roth IRA, I basically avoided the question by looking at my own retirement options and upping the contributions quite a bit, greatly easing my nervousness about retirement. My reading about investments and investing some myself has greatly reduced my unease about investment risk, and my wife’s car is actually doing quite well and I feel we’re well-prepared for our next vehicle purchase.
So what’s left? What sorts of personal financial issues keep me up at night? Here are the five biggies in my life right now.
#1. Estate planning This is the one holdover from last year, and it got much more important with the birth of our second child. I still don’t feel entirely right with the plans in place for a sudden death. For starters, I am rather nervous about our options for potential guardians for our children, and I also am not sure how exactly to handle income that I would earn after I pass. I need to set up documentation so that everything is dumped into trusts for them and managed by someone – and I think I know the best person to do it, too.
What do I need to do? I need to sit down with an estate planner and work through the documentation to get all of this taken care of. I also need to prepare a binder of information explaining to my wife some of the things that need to be done if I were to pass on and she were to survive me – things like how to properly close The Simple Dollar, who to contact for various accounts, and so on.
#2. Staying at home One of the biggest debates in our life right now is whether or not one of us should be a stay at home parent. I personally think we’d both do fine at this task, but I also think that my son gets a lot out of the daycare that he attends (it really is perhaps the nicest daycare I’ve ever seen – I am just blown away by it every time I’m there). We keep twisting this around, back and forth, creating financial projections if one of us makes the leap, and so on. We both believe we could make it, but we’re both really scared to take that jump.
What do I need to do? Keep talking about it and looking at it. We’ve basically committed to a trial period with both children at daycare, and we’ve also agreed that if a third child arrives before our oldest is in school, one of us will stay at home for a few years. Also, above all else, provide a warm and loving home for our children.
#3. A third child We’re basically in agreement about wanting a third child. We can afford it easily, and we’ve already figured out how we want to rearrange the bedrooms to make this possible (the oldest one gets a room of his own, basically, and I lose my office, but I don’t use it that much anyway). The question is: now or later?
What do I need to do? Wait until we both feel we’re ready, then go for the gusto.
#4. Our investment plan I am constantly tinkering with our investment plan, and I often post the latest iteration for people to discuss here, because I usually learn a few things and find some new directions to investigate. I feel pretty confident about the plan I currently have, but I am nervous about implementing it.
What do I need to do? Be calm and just follow the plan. Good things will happen over the long haul.
#5. Our next car purchase While it’s not nearly as worrisome as it once was, I’m still carefully considering our future vehicle purchases. I think we’ve got this under control, but I do have a bit of worry about my wife’s car dying before we get to execute it.
What do I need to do? Keep going with the savings plan, and be ready to go if we need to buy earlier than we’re planning.
Really, the first three worries are the ones that deeply concern me – the other two are much lesser concerns in the bigger scope of things. It’s amazing how things change over a year, though.