Note: This post is sponsored by SunTrust Bank, which helps me bring you the medical expert-written posts about autoimmune disease research on AutoimmuneMom.com.
When you’re living with a chronic health issue, it’s natural to focus on the day-to-day imperatives: “What doctor appointments do I have this week?” “What driving around am I doing for the kids’ activities?” and the all-important, never ending question: “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”
And then there are the household finances. “Which bills are due this week?” “What’s the bank account balance?” “Are we saving enough for college/retirement/surprise health issues/surprise house issues/unwelcome surprises in general?”
But when you have a chronic illness, it’s a good idea to think about the happy side of budget and savings. Setting aside money for a rainy day in those cases of the basement flooding or the washer/dryer going kaput are super important.
But there’s also the idea of saving for sunny days – those days when you’re feeling great and you can get outside with the kids for a walk in the park or kicking a soccer ball around, or you can all take a much-needed family vacation full of amazing memories.
Having a baby, and then another baby and maybe even another baby (for the truly brave among us) brings much joy and even more planning.
So in the vein of ‘sunny day’ financial planning and budgeting, whether you’re in the early days of growing your family or looking to high school and college plans, here are a few spending categories my family thinks about… or wished we had.
And for the record, I’m calling these categories ‘sunny day categories’ because they are the parts of life that are fun, important and bring good memories to all. It’s true they are not the nitty gritty of the number of diapers you need to buy each month, or the amount to set aside for piano lessons, but they are big pieces of a monthly and yearly budget that I feel are truly important for health and happiness.
Sunny Day Category #1: Food/Diet
After my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, her doctor advised my whole family to eat organic. So we’ve been eating organic for the last 10+ years. But who was I to know that during pregnancy, I’d onset autoimmune disease and a whole host of food allergies that one of my children also inherited? Our food bill is enormous because we live in a city and cannot easily grow our own food. I never thought I’d be spending so much just to feed a family of four with the various food allergies and supplement needs we have. But food is also a source of love and gathering together, so we make room for that too.
Sunny Day Category #2: Education
I was a public school girl all the way, so we bought a home in a neighborhood with a great public school. But the best laid plans… Our oldest struggled in 1st grade with the large class size and highly structured teaching style/curriculum in Austin public schools. She was so unhappy and begged not to go back for 2nd grade… it brought the whole house down. I never thought we’d be paying for private school in any grade – that was not the plan. But we are all so much happier with the smaller private school, that the financial juggling has been worth it. So – it’s happiness again, but with a price. Which makes the college savings harder, but thankfully that’s a ways off.
Sunny Day Category #3: Travel
Growing up, we did a lot of inexpensive, short, road trip vacations that were the highlight of every summer. But we also didn’t need to travel to see family, as my grandparents and cousins all lived within a two-hour radius. If you have to fly to see family, figuring out how often you want to visit them, plus have your own vacation memories of your immediate family is important. Plane tickets and rental cars add up. So knowing how much you can spend on travel each year is good planning, and saving up for ‘big’ vacations every 5-10 years such as Disney, Hawaii, New York City or even abroad builds family memories and bonding time – which is especially important if you’re not always feeling well and need to restrict high-impact activities during the rest of the year.
If you’re like me and you feel overwhelmed with where to start saving for your dreams, big and small– a website created by SunTrust Bank can help you start your sunny days fund: www.yoursunnyday.com/have-family-time
We autoimmune moms know we need our health team to include our various specialists and supporters, but if we think about our “life team”, we need help with planning, and that includes financial planning.
More from SunTrust:
Sunny Days start here. At SunTrust, we have the tools and resources to help you achieve your sunny day. Start here to find out how we can help you enjoy the things that matter to you.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you. They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.
Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day.
Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.
About the Author
Katie Cleary is founder of AutoimmuneMom.com. She lives with her autoimmune conditions, family and mini labradoodle dog in Austin, Texas.