• Shaun O'Keefe I Financial Adviser

4 tips for family success during great change

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Families are feeling vulnerable right now with all the changes and challenges going on in the world. And you don’t need to look very far to see why they’re feeling some heat.

  • The general cost of living is increasing, with food, rent and fuel prices leading the way.

  • Property prices, home affordability and a general uncertainty on the direction of the property market. As the major family asset, the value of the family home affects the feeling of perceived wealth and influences the way we spend or hold back our money.

  • Interest rates are also rumoured to rise in the next year or so making home loan repayments bigger and adding further stress to an already stretched household budget.

  • Supply chain issues are making some things scarce or just plain expensive for your family. This is also a big problem for businesses that rely upon products which can’t be supplied. If it’s a problem for businesses, it eventually becomes a problem for their employees too.

  • Then there’s the latest Covid variants, health mandates, employment uncertainties… and the list goes on.

It’s not good news - and I didn’t feel good writing it either. I just have this sense that families are getting set up for a financial shakedown and it irks me. But - and this is what gives me hope - I also sense that there’s great opportunity out there for families as the world undergoes massive change over the next decade. So that’s what I want to focus on.

But first, we need to position our families for success and setting in place some good habits. Here are 4 areas your family can focus on to give you a sense space and mental clarity to keep your head up and your eyes looking forward with hopeful expectation.

1. Accept change

The rate of change around the world can be overwhelming. This tends to weigh heavy on families and give rise to a feeling of ‘change-fatigue’. It leaves many people feeling sapped of energy, frustrated and others who want to put their head in the sand and hope it all just goes away. But it won’t.

A mate of mine says “control the controllables”. By this he means that there are some things you can change, and some things you can’t. Focus on what's in your control to change and change that – and also accept that some things aren’t, and you can’t. Find your peace in that.

2. Unplug for a while

This one follows the above – they’re closely related. It wasn’t long back when another friend told me that they feel so much better when they unplug from all the news and social media noise that bombards them. They’re lighter, more at peace and less anxious about life when they do. I’ve experienced the same.

Take an information reset. Reduce your smartphone time and wind down your use of technology for the next week or so. Pick up a book, listen to music, play with the dog, go for a walk. Enjoy your family and good friends. Clear your head so you can start again without the fog - and repeat when needed.

3. Be selective

We’re constantly being presented with the information that others want us to hear and see. And unfortunately it's mostly negative. Don’t be a news sponge and absorb everything you’re told. Be selective and focus on seeking out the information that you think is important for your family.

Spend time to understand the bigger trends that are happening around the world. Read books, listen to podcasts, invest in yourself, and grow your thinking in a positive way making sure you give your focus to the good things in life.

TIP: If you don’t want to be ignorant to the goings on in the world but also don’t want to get sucked into the vortex of mainstream news sites, then maybe you should set up your very own custom news feed. Google has something called Google Alerts – enter a keyword on a topic you're keen on and it will send you a summary of website headlines, short text and a link to information on that keyword every 24 hrs. It’s brilliant – it keeps me informed and it saves me from getting caught up in useless distraction.

4. Create a buffer

When change and uncertainty are in the air, having a bit of a financial buffer behind you is always reassuring. Call it savings, a cash cushion, or an emergency fund – it’s all the same. It’s financial peace of mind for your family. Here are some thoughts on how you can create some buffer areas in your life.

  • Live within your means: This is a major confidence builder. Credit cards, Afterpay and the myriad of short-term personal loans give a false sense of security of our true financial position. It’s easy to think you can tap into these when you want that new thing or if your money situation turns to custard. But it’s not – don’t be fooled. Ditch the credit card. Avoid the Afterpay. If you don’t have the cash in your account – you can’t afford the thing.

  • Savings buffer: When you live within your means, you have money left over. Money left over can be used to start building a savings buffer. You should work towards having a minimum amount equal to 3 months of your living expenses in your savings buffer to get your family through periods of financial stress. Your family's financial outlook will be so much more hopeful and confident when you do this. Trust me, it's such an important point that I'll continue to bang on about it.

  • Grocery buffer: Just-in-time inventory isn’t always just in time. Remember what happened during Covid lockdowns? Supermarket shelves without toilet paper, pasta, tinned tomatoes, hand sanitiser etc. When you need it and it’s not on the shelves things have turned into Out-of-time-out-of-luck. Add a little extra to your shopping over the coming weeks and months. Concentrate on the daily staples and those things that you use regularly, but become scarce during public buying panics, and build up your family’s grocery buffer.

  • Grow a simple garden: Herbs and salad greens are the easiest to grow and can be done simply, out of pots and basic garden beds in almost any type of home. And the’re delicious and cheap to grow. It may not save a lot on the household budget but for reasons I don’t fully understand, it provides a sense of personal accomplishment and with it some valuable mental health benefits. And I'm all for this type of buffer for families.

TIP: Having ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’ as they say is a set up for financial failure - so make sure your live within your means - that is, make sure your living expenses are lower than your take home pay. If you’re not sure where your money is at, go to the Money Smart Budget Planner and work it out.

Change is inevitable. But it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom if you take some steps to set your family up. Don't get distracted by all the noise and negative sentiment. Decide that things are going to go well for your family no matter what, reset, refresh and focus forward on the good things in life.


Shaun O'Keefe helps families feel more financially secure. He's found that he can help more people, more effectively when he helps families. As a fee-based financial planner, he works with families just like yours to bring personal values and financial resources in line so that you can keep focussed on the priorities in your life.

The information contained in this article is general in nature only. It is not intended to be a recommendation, offer, advice or invitation to purchase, sell or otherwise deal in securities or other investments. Before making any decision concerning a financial product, you should seek advice from an appropriately qualified professional. We believe that the information contained in this document is accurate. However, we are not specifically licensed to provide tax or legal advice and any information that may relate to you should be confirmed with your tax or legal adviser.


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