Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How your money personality affects planning for your child's future

Dave and I have been going through the process of planning for Max's financial future and let me just say, gathering the documents has been the most fun thing I've done in forever! Um, OK, not. Happily, after we got through that all we've had to do is sit back, talk and listen.

Among the stuff we had to collect:

• Statements from savings, retirement and investment accounts
• Property insurance summary pages
• Life insurance statements
• Two years of tax returns
• Social security and pension statements
• Wills

Given that my filing system consists of tossing statements into a fabric tote in a closet, and Dave doesn't even have a filing system, it's taken us awhile to get stuff together. So if you're going to start financial planning in the near future (and paperwork organization is not one of your talents), my advice is to get a big folder and start putting statements in there.

Through the series of sponsored posts I'm doing with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and their national SpecialCare program, I've been meeting with financial advisors Sal Salvo and Michael MacDougal of MassMutual's general agency Summit Marketing Inc. In our first meeting, Dave and I were asked to list our priorities about planning for Max in order of importance. We had different takes but in the end, we're both clear on the fact that before you can start making a plan for your child with special needs, you need to make sure you have your own plan in place.

Our next meeting with the team was all about the meaning of money—a look at my perceptions and Dave's toward our finances. In order for a financial planner to come up with a plan for you, he ideally needs to know both partners' take on money and their history with it. As Sal said, "Everyone has a relationship with money that's as different as a fingerprint."

We'd been sent the questions in advance to ponder. Then Sal took turns asking Dave and me questions as he recorded it. We're going to have the CDs to save for posterity. Sal showed us the CD he keeps on his desk of him and his father talking. Now that his dad is ailing and unable to talk, he told us, it's one of his most valuable possessions.

I'd given some thought to the questions, but as I spoke I found myself talking about things I'd never really voiced, like how grateful I was to my dad for teaching me about saving. Dave and I laughed as I recalled my first paid job (counselor in training, for which I received 50 whole bucks for the summer!) and how, when I met him, Dave's banking system consisted of a Post-it note on his bedroom wall that listed the rent he owed and the amount in his checking account. We both agreed on what money means to us: freedom. Freedom to make sure our our kids are taken care of without worry, freedom to enjoy life's pleasures, freedom to live life on our terms.

During the meeting, one important thing came up: Dave and I need to decide on a back-up guardian for the kids, in case the unthinkable happens to us. We already have a designated guardian in place but, as it turns out, you also need a back-up guardian to the guardian. I'm considering asking Bill Gates. But, for real, we'll pick a family member.

Below, the financial questions we discussed. Even if you're visiting a financial professional soon, they can help you firm up some goals with your husband—and learn a little more about the person you thought you knew everything about.


Early learning

1. In what kind of financial circumstances did your parents grow up?
2. In what kind of financial circumstances did you grow up, and how do you think that affected how you think about money?
3. What are some of your earliest memories about money?

Decisions about money

1. What was the best financial decision you ever made? What was the worst?
2. What are some of the guiding principals and philosophies you try to follow with money?
3. In what ways are your attitudes about money different from your partner's?

What money means

1. What does your money represent to you?
2. What do you most appreciate about money?
3. What concerns or fears do you have about money?

Looking ahead

1. Looking ahead, what worries do you have about your financial future?
2. What advice about money would you like to pass on to your children, grandchildren and others who will follow you?
3. If your money could solve one problem or issue in the world, what issue would that be? Why is solving that problem or issue important to you?

If you care to, share: What does money mean to you?

This is one of a series of posts sponsored by MassMutual, for which I received compensation. SpecialCare is an exclusive MassMutual program that provides access to information, specialists and financial products and services.



  1. Thanks for writing this. No plan in place yet for me or my son. Not good at all. Moving this to the top of the to do list. This post is helpful.

  2. Money is a reflection of where we are spiritually, not in terms of how little or how much we have, but in terms of what do we do with it, how we spend it or not.

    It can also provide great piece of mind when you have some, or a great deal of stress when you're on the lean side. Interesting post, please keep them coming!

  3. Ellen,
    Have you heard about the Texas yearbook r-word incendient?thought you may want to do a post on it.

  4. What happened to all the comments? I wanted to see what people had to say in response to your anonymous commenter. Too bad people feel at liberty to make a strong comment without a name. Interesting post nonetheless.

  5. Glad these special needs planning posts have been helpful to you; going through the process has been a total eye-opener (and very reassuring). Kathryn, yes, I will be writing about it. GreenGirl, are you thinking of this post? http://www.lovethatmax.com/2012/04/found-mystery-girl-with-down-syndrome.html

  6. How could I have missed this post!! Money means the difference between welfare and the food pantry and having to hock personal belongings! Of course, JOBS help there, too!! I am glad those days are behind me! I've always been thrifty, and good thing, too--I can stretch a dollar a country mile and I still do, even though I have "regular" money coming in now!


Thanks for sharing!

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