“It is getting dark outside,” my son announces rather proudly. In a burst of energy, he takes off, sprinting in loops around our house. Bedtime nears and he is trying to outrun it. Eventually, my wife or I usher him to bed, his small but mighty footsteps echoing as he pounces upstairs. Now it is time for me to put away the toys, stack up the books, do some dishes, and hopefully settle onto the couch before 10 PM.

Then the morning arrives, a 6:30 wake up. I no longer need an alarm thanks to my son. At some point probably around 11 PM the night before, my wife got me to sleepwalk upstairs to bed from the couch. The morning routine involves sips of coffee snuck in between diaper changes and checking the day’s weather forecast. Life with a child is a lesson in constant movement.

My wife and I will pause in the brief moments between all of the activity to appreciate how we have gotten where we are. In three years, I graduated law school, got married, took the bar exam, started working as an attorney, had a child, bought a car, bought our first house, and then merged with Koenig|Dunne. That is a lot of life to handle. Constant change has been a regular part of my life for the better part of the last decade.

Each major change has presented an opportunity to evaluate and reassess where we are and where we are going next. One of the main topics of conversation in this process has been our family finances. For us, having our first child necessitated a reassessment of how we spent our money. An expanding family drastically impacts financial decision-making.

The expanding family can manifest in a variety of forms. It may be that your boomerang child came back home or your aging parents now live with you. It may be that you’re unexpectedly taking care of your grandchildren. These are some of the realities that I witness in my bankruptcy practice. Life is dynamic. Life is expensive. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.

When the perfect storm of these life events occur, you may find yourself in a situation where the incoming money is not enough to cover the outgoing expenses. I encourage making a budget when these life changes are about to occur or have occurred. Here is a free form you can use to help: Blank Budget Worksheet. It helps to reset the understanding of your finances so that you are empowered to make informed decisions. You may discover that you are spending more money on certain items than you had thought. You may determine that some expenses can be eliminated altogether.

I understand that life is busy and, at times, frenetic. We can all try to outrun evaluating or making tough financial decisions. Peace of mind and control starts with finding or creating brief moments of pause to really look at and understand your situation, reaching out to trusted advisors when assistance or support is needed.

Patrick Patino

CategoryMoney Matters