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Creating a Five-Year Money Plan


My husband and I have held ‘quarterly goal meetings’ for years. Every three months, we go out to dinner (kid free) and review our goals for the coming year. We usually spend a couple hours individually preparing/adjusting goals the week before the meeting and talk through them at dinner. I bought a Living Well planner from Living Well Spending Less (LWSL) a couple years back and we have been using those prompts to set annual goals individually and as a couple. We try to include goals like: vacation/travel, fitness, budgeting, community, and spiritual/educational growth. I love the way Ruth/LWSL walks you through how to set and achieve goals and it worked so well for us, we were able to keep this area consistent in our lives. No, LWSL isn’t the perfect solution for everyone, but it has worked well for me (they are not a sponsor/advertiser).

I have felt a bit smug about this habit. I’ve got my ‘stuff’ together!


Here sweetheart, have some humble pie.

Without going too far down the explanation rabbit hole, my kids will go to college for free. We haven’t been as consistent about setting money aside because college is covered! No worries! I was randomly reading through the paperwork this week and there was a very big asterisk on the whole ‘free college’ thing: housing, food, and books aren’t included. Tuition only. Since they can attend any college of their choosing in any state, there is a good possibility they will need all of those things. I feel like a complete idiot for missing this and now I’m way behind the 8 ball.

Wait, it gets better. I was lying awake at 2am, staring at the ceiling trying to figure out how in heaven’s name I’m going to save for college for four kids on an expedited schedule, and it hit me…my son is turning 11. He’ll need a car in 5 years. No, I’m not a fan of giving cars to kids but I’d like to help so they don’t start in a financial bad place like I did. Where will I get the money for that?!?!

Then there is additional car insurance, braces, cell phones, and all the other financial whammy’s that come with teens. Short term goals? I got those in spades. Long term? Uh. I’ll have to get back to you.

Here’s the deal, the planner prompted long term goals, but I distinctly remember looking at those pages, laughing, and saying, ‘That’s cute. I don’t have this month figured out; I’ll focus on that first.’ So here I am, the smug look wiped right off my face, mashing numbers into a calculator so I can back into how much I need to budget for the future. Obviously, if you are carrying debt, FOCUS ON THAT FIRST! But if you are rocking that budget and finished with debt, or getting close, sit down and look at your five-year expenses. It’s REALLY scary, but it’s less scary now that it would have been to hit this wall five years from now.

Excuse me, I’m going to eat some more humble pie.


  • Reply Angie |

    Huh. Any school, any tuition? And you’re not going to explain it? There must be a trust fund somewhere? A lottery win? A generational scholarship? They are all Doogie Howser like geniuses? A trove of college coupons?

    • Reply Beks |

      Ha ha! Your comment made me laugh out loud. No, it’s none of those things but they sound fun, particularly the trust! That would be nice. It’s a sticky subject that would reveal a little more about me than I’m comfortable sharing at the moment.

  • Reply miranda zetsen |

    Hey! Its hard thinking of the future its so far in the future. When I was 16 and got my license I loved what my parents did. We had to save up $2500 each and they would match the $2500. So we would have $5000 for our visit cars. We both got decent cars and definitely helped us out. They also would go halves on repairs. Regular maintence, insurance (our own) and gas was all on us to maintain. Where I live you can get part time jobs legally at 14. I thought it was a great balance. Teached us to be responsible but also made the world of a difference for us.

  • Reply Shanna |

    I have 3 in college or finished with college (and one more to go). Room and Board can be 10K-15K a year on campus and more off campus. Books have seemed to be less every year, due to so many things being managed online so they might not be as bad as you think. But they will all need good laptops. One of my kids uses a Mac Book Pro and an iPad Pro together due to the nature of her major, that is another couple thousand per kid. Also, out of state college requiring travel can add several thousand per school year for coming home on breaks at holiday time. Lots of extra costs to consider outside of tuition. Sometimes tuition is the least of it!!

  • Reply Cheryl |

    I don’t know if it is the same as years ago but out of state students paid more in tuition.

  • Reply Denise |

    It seems really disingenuous to say your kids can go to any school, any state, any tuition for free without farther explanation since it sounds pretty far fetched. However, assuming it is true, there is nothing wrong with also having your kids share some of the responsibility for the costs. Perhaps telling them they are responsible to pay for books and half of room and board (if they choose to live away from home)? That would be a relatively minimal cost for them but help teach them responsibility and money management.

    • Reply Anon |

      My neighbor’s kids get to go to school for free (any school, any state, etc.) through the GI bill. If it were something like that, I could see Beks feeling uncomfortable sharing the info because it maybe lets us know more about their family and employment history/military connection than she prefers. IDK, just saying there could be legitimate reasons why tuition would be covered, but the circumstances make it so they don’t feel comfortable sharing.

      • Reply KLM |

        The (current) GI Bill is not unlimited–it would not cover Beks’s 4 (3?) children full time. It generally covers 36 months of school–4 years of a 9-month school year. You can split it among children, but it’s not 36 months each. And it It also provides a books and living expenses stipend. It could be some other military benefit or some older GI Bill.

    • Reply Brianne |

      Agreed, I’m highly suspicious of a program that pays tuition at any school for four children. If that existed, wouldn’t it be a great thing for a debt blogger to share so everyone could figure out a way to take advantage of it?

      • Reply Beks |

        Totally understand the suspicion. It’s not a program available to the general public. It’s not something I’m comfortable sharing. I debated talking about it and I recognize it’s something I perhaps shouldn’t have since I’m not comfortable sharing the source.

So, what do you think ?