So let me start this post off by saying – I am not a financial expert. I am not here to dole out advice. Should I repeat that? I am NOT a financial expert. Ok. Now that we have that out of the way, today’s post is a little bit on how we do finance at our house. I wanted to share a little of something that has really started to work for us in the last year. When something is going well we like to talk about it right? So again, I’m not telling anyone that this is magic or will work for them, but it is working well for us.
Last winter, Nate’s boss actually gave him a book to read called Traction by Gino Wickman. It is a book that explains a different way of helping your business reach goals for one year, five years, so on and so forth. As Nate was reading it, he realized, there are a lot of ways that this could apply to our household and reaching our goals there as well. He explained it to me and I decided it did sound like a good idea. I should back up here and say – we were not in bad financial standings at all, but we were finding that we weren’t moving ourselves forward either on getting some major house things done and planning for the future (retirement, etc.) We were both tired of saying “we should do this, we should do that.” We thought if we started the Traction model it might actually get us talking more and getting the momentum to get things done.
Now you’re probably wondering – how does Traction work? It is a goal setting program and breaks things down to achieve the goals you set. It is recommended you sit down once a year and lay out your grand, big plan – where do we want to be in 25 years, 10 years, five years, one year. Each of these benchmarks should help you build on the next one – so your goals for one year should lead to your goals for five years, so on and so forth. This may be starting to sound like it’s daunting, but here is how it works and why it works for us. Once you have your yearly meeting, then you do what are called 90 Day Rocks – you simply make a list of 3-5 goals for the next ninety days that are going to help you stay on track for that bigger picture. And finally, you meet once a week to check in on the 90 day rocks and kind of do weekly tasks to keep on top of those. In the simplest terms – you take that BIG picture and you break it down into manageable, smaller tasks with a shorter timeline.
It’s recommended that you meet on the same day every week – so we set aside Tuesday nights over dinner. The meeting starts by reviewing the 90 day rocks, then talking about the highlights and lowlights of the week, followed by going through your weekly tasks and checking off what did or didn’t get done. If something didn’t get finished, it gets moved on the list for next week. Life happens and sometimes our Tuesday night doesn’t work out, but we always reschedule as soon as possible.
You might be saying, ok Beth, that sounds kind of impersonal, you run your family like a business? We definitely tweaked some things about the program to make it more “household” and “family” friendly. And the things we’ve achieved just in the last nine or so months of using this model are pretty good – we refinanced our house, replaced our roof, planned our trip for our anniversary and we even used planning Oktoberfest as one of the “rocks” (they aren’t all big serious things!) The thing I like best is it really does force us to sit down and discuss things, many of those “we’ll do that someday” things have finally started coming to fruition and it feels good to finally not being living in “later” territory. We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we’re doing pretty well. I would even say it’s brought us closer together as a couple. It isn’t always fun to talk about those big adult things, but you can’t hide from them or avoid them either. I like that we have open and clear communication about all of it, the good and the bad. I also like that each week you’re encouraged to talk about the highs and lows of the week – we often touch base on how things are going with Ollie or even things outside of our family – extended family things, work things, etc.
Maybe it sounds nerdy or weird or whatever, but for us, it’s been one of the best things we’ve done this year. I am excited to see how this keeps developing for us – and to even get Ollie involved when he’s older.
There you have it! It might not be for everyone, but if anyone has any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them! If you have something that works well for you and care to share, I’d love to hear from you too! I know there are lots of different financial plans/books/ideas out there!