Worry-Free Family Finances

Physician's Money Digest, August15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 15

Worry-Free Family Finances

So life isn't as simpleas it seemed yearsago when you decidedto be a doctor. Hugestudent loans came due,practice establishment washard earned, and witheach lively addition toyour household, from yourspouse to your newborn toyour entrepreneurial son-in-law, your personal financesgrew trickier. Billand Mary Staton insist that it doesn'thave to be so difficult to put a handle onfamily finances, and offer a few helpfultips to simplify household finances intheir book (McGraw-Hill; 2003).

An Element of Fun

In their easy Southern manner, thecouple relays simple wealth-buildingsteps: Save more, givemore, and invest wisely. Payyourself (ie, investmentsand money to have funwith) and others (ie, charities)first in your budget,and then allot for bills andother necessary expenses.Entertaining cartoons withinspirational quotes accompanyreaders as they flipthrough each section. Funquizzes, checklists, andcharts demonstrate how family members(grownups and kids alike) canimprove household finances and develophealthy financial habits.

The authors begin by making readersarticulate goals (eg, doubling net worthwithin 5 years) and dreams (eg, owning avineyard). They encourage readers todream big: "Goals can hold you back.Dreams never do. Dreams are limitless."

The book goes on to explain how toeliminate wasteful spending habits andsave more. It identifies the right way tobudget—without being too restrictive. Ittouches on dealing with credit card debt,college savings, and wedding expenses.It offers allowance and game tactics tohelp kids respect the value of a dollar.The authors offer little ways to reduce afamily's overhead, including reducingenergy bills, paying less forlarge purchases, maintaininga car, traveling smart,and staying healthy—whichincludes giving yourselfsolid vacation time.

Giving and Investing

Next, the Statons examinethe value of giving tothose in need—how ithelps a family's bottom lineand peace of mind. Theyprovide examples of successful individualswho gained through giving, and ways toobtain gifting tax breaks.

Remember:

Finally, the book explains investingbasics for pre- and postretirement days. Itprovides clear-cut, basic stock investingtactics, self-evaluation tools to determineyour investing needs and style, and a listof tried-and-true public companies. Past performance is no guaranteeof future results, solook into these and otherstock holdings thoroughlybefore investing.

The Statons insist that bysticking to this simple outline,families can put theirmoney to work for them.The easy-to-read bookhelps families to maketheir financial life lessnerve-racking and morerewarding.