Family financial management: a real world perspective

Muske, Glenn
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The purpose of this study is to examine techniques used by families in the day-to-day management of their finances. The purpose is accomplished by analysis of data gathered through a series of in-depth interviews with the family money manager in seven different families. Each family was interviewed for a minimum of four hours, to examine what the family actually does and their reported explanation of why they do it. The families are all white, in first marriages, with children living at home. The family financial managers have a bachelor's degree or less, and both spouses are employed at least part-time. Family income ranges from 40,000 to 60,000 annually;Several themes emerge from the data. These themes, in turn, are developed into a proposed financial management process. The proposed model, a grounded theory, suggests that families have a process for managing their money and that it focuses on the ideas of safety, control, comfort, and routine, with an overall goal of the family's financial viability. The specific activities, largely mental, seen in the model are a result of a decision process that is shaped by several motivating factors including cash flow, the near future, feelings and values, experience, and situational knowledge. Respondents all said their goals are to "live life to the max." and to be able to "pay our bills." Although long-term planning, saving, and net worth appear to be of little or no concern, all respondents are home owners, have retirement programs (some minimal), and are protected from at least some catastrophic occurrence by health, property, and liability insurance;The study suggests five areas that have implications for the development and teaching of financial management practices: (1) motivators and how they influence the entire process; (2) tools and the need for a variety; (3) teaching and how formal educational efforts must expand on the motivational forces at work and include a variety of methods; (4) timing, including the short-term focus of the manager's planning horizon and how life experiences impact financial decisions; and (5) the use of the mass media outlets to educate regarding family financial management.

Human development and family studies