Welcome to another installment of the Centsible Life Family CFO interview series. This series will share a look behind the scenes at how other families manage their money with useful advice, funny stories, and hopefully we’ll all come out of it a bit more money savvy.
Want to be featured as a Family CFO? Simply click over to the interview form and fill it out. It should only take you about 5-10 minutes. I’d love to feature readers and fellow bloggers alike. If you have suggestions for additional questions I’d love to know what you’d like to ask.
This week Mary Ellen Mannix from James’s Project. Mary Ellen is a mom of five. She writes about the loss of her then infant son in 2001 through a series of preventable medical errors. In her own words;
The vision is to see every child have the best chance at a healthy childhood – which is the foundation for a full, successful life.
Education is the first step to build a safe foundation. Effective communication ensures understanding. Collaboration encourages sustainability for the growth and learning.
Q: Do you currently work or stay at home?
Work from home.
Q: Do you have kids? If so, how many and what are their ages?
5 children : 24-year-old girl, 22-year-old boy, 17-year-old girl, 9 (almost 10) year old boy. And one who would be turning 13 in October but passed away as an infant.
Q: Who is in charge of everyday spending in your home?
We share the responsibility.
Q: How do you track your finances?
Check the account often! During really tight financial times – we go to the envelopes! Put what you have for the week in an envelope and only use that.
Q: How do you track your net worth?
By how much my children love the world around them (including me).
Q: Do you create a budget?
Q: How often do you check your accounts?
Q: How often do you assess you spending and budget?
Monthly – sometimes much more often when crises or major changes hit.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to your finances?
We started our family while we were both in school. It’s not the ideal. We have not had extra for lots of family vacations etc. However, we have been able to prioritize and our children enjoy the benefits of living in a very good school district.
But the biggest hurdle has been was the medical bills & challenges after our child was hospitalized and passed away as a result a number of years ago. Its been an ongoing struggle.
Q: What has been your biggest success financially?
Helping our eldest two children get through college and now a third about to go.
Q: Who is in charge of the managing bill paying in your home?
My husband and I share this responsibility.
Q: When you and your spouse disagree about a financial issues how do you come to a compromise?
After 22 years of marriage he is trained to reply, “Yes, Dear.”
Q: What is the best advice you have for being a successful CFO of your family?
Money will come and go. Your family is there to stay. Take care of their real needs – not what they demand they want at a big box store. To quote Toy Story: “That’s garage sale fodder for sure!”
Family is more important than money.
I couldn’t agree more with Mary Ellen. Family comes first. My own kids know that if they want extras they have to pay for them themselves. It helps them make their own mistakes, especially when that awesome toy does end up in the garage sale pile!
Financial hardship often comes in the form of medical bills.
When you look at financial data from bankruptcies and unpaid bills it’s clear that medical expenses are the cause of much of the financial hardship Americans face. Mary Ellen and her family suffered a horrible loss, and I’m sure it was not easy to face down huge medical bills in the aftermath of their loss.
Paying for college
It’s pretty amazing that they were able to put two kids through college and have a third about to attend. I would love to read more about Mary Ellen’s advice on saving up for college and how they managed to save (perhaps finding grants and scholarships or using a local college versus an expensive out-of-state university). In any case it’s extremely impressive!
What questions do you have for Mary Ellen?