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Is Being a Full-Time Family CFO the Wave of the Future?

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A long, long time ago in a galaxy very familiar, a man went to work to make money and a woman stayed home to keep the house and raise the children. As equal rights started to creep in we evolved into two-income families. I believe that's were most people are now. One of my friends has taken what I believe the possible next step for some affluent families... she's a full-time CFO.

Before I get into those details, I have to share a story about her while I suppress a little laughter. Whenever we've caught up after a couple of weeks or a month, she'd ask, "So what have you been doing with all your time?" There's a general misconception that because I am self-employed, I don't work and have infinite amounts of time. It was always an uncomfortable question to answer. Have you ever had that weekend day when you've been super busy, but really can't state at the end of the day what you accomplished? It's like that.

Several months ago, I was catching up with her and she told me that she had been slowly transitioning out of her job for about a year now. I was finally able to turn the tables on the question and put it to her. She responded that she's managing the family's money full-time. Hmmm, this sounded very familiar to me. I asked for more details...

She talked about her real estate empire that she started building over the course of last year. (One of the key words in the opening paragraph was "affluent.") On paper, these properties are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what she paid. I want to stress that the equity gains aren't realized, but it's hard to argue that she didn't do well. For now, she rents them out the properties for income.

She says that she follows the financial markets and re-balances according to that. I know she's very financially intelligent (perhaps even more so than me if you can imagine such a thing - ha!), so she's not day trading or anything like that. One thing she mentioned is that none of this would be possible if she was still working full-time at her other job. She wouldn't have the time to go look at properties, put in bids, secure financing, and the like.

My friend is doing more things, but in her spare time she's also a soccer mom, shuttling kids here and there. It's half homemaker and half entrepreneur. Her husband brings in a more traditional income.

I'm seeing a lot of that in myself nowadays, which makes me wonder if it is a trend. I wear a number of CFO hats.

Certified Financial Officer

On one hand, I have an income stream from my online properties, most famously the one you are reading now. Like my friend, I am also looking to expand my real estate empire. In the past 9 months, I was able to refinance our three properties to save us more than a hundred thousand dollars in mortgage payments. It was no small chore given that two of them were HARPs. With a full-time job, I doubt I would have had the patience to spend the hours every week for months to get it done. (After the sub-prime collapse it seems that lenders are overly paranoid now.)

Certified Frugal Officer

I look for ways that we can save money, without putting in a ton of time and effort for a buck. This means taking advantage of the military commissary and deals at the local supermarkets without extreme couponing. It means utilizing services like DogVacay instead of a traditional kennel when we go vacation. One of the things I've done is get rewards credit cards for almost every category of items we buy to get an addition 2-5% cash back on everything we buy.

The little things add up.

Certified "Fudge!" Officer

[If this weren't a family-friendly blog, I would use another name other than "fudge."]

Most recently, I've been on full-time alert for people trying to swindle me out of money. I've mentioned that RainSoft scammed me out of $100, and that my tenants won’t get out. The later is means that I might lose a day going to court. The latest issue is the local hospital and our health care plan provider can't seem to connect on a bill. It seems that both agree that we shouldn't have to pay it, but nonetheless, it went to collections because the person at the hospital who was supposed to fix the error quit for a new job. It's a simple clerical error, but it's a few more hours of work.

Final Thoughts

In a lot of ways being a full-time family CFO simply means keeping an ear to the ground listening for opportunity. When you hear it coming, you get ready to pounce. It also means putting out fires that threaten to take money from you.

After some 800 words, I still don't think I'm any closer to coming up with an appropriate answer when someone asks, "Are you a full-time blogger?" In my mind that conjures up someone spending eight (or more) hours writing every day. That simply isn't me. Maybe the next time someone asks me, I tell them that I'm a "family CFO" and watch as their forehead crinkles.

Last updated on August 20, 2013.

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8 Responses to “Is Being a Full-Time Family CFO the Wave of the Future?”

  1. Theresa says:

    I am the CFO of my household. I do all the shopping, budgeting, money earning and financial planning. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the right hat for me to wear, but then I look at where we started vs. where we are and realize that all that hard work has paid off.

  2. Tommy Z says:

    “As equal rights started to creep in we evolved into two-income families.”

    I would rephrase this one as:

    “As president Nixon took the country off the gold standard and inflation cut into the average family’s standard of living, women were forced into the workforce because husbands could no longer support their families with one income alone.”

    • Lazy Man says:

      Interesting thought, Tommy. Sorry, but I simply don’t agree.

      I think being taken off of the gold standard was a great thing. After all: gold is just yellow metal. I saw a commercial today with an actor portraying an retiree who is securing his retirement with gold. I half laughed (at the idea) and half cried (because some people will follow it). I’m sure some senior citizens will get suckered into the commercial and call up that investment firm who will sell them some financial gold product at outrageous expenses.

      This isn’t ancient Egypt valuing gold for status, this is the information age valuing products for their… well… value.

      If you believe that inflation cut into the average standard of living in the US in the 1960’s, it may be a good time to make sure you are diversified across many countries. Inflation can’t have a global impact… Well it can, but at that point people are going to go with oil and commodities provide functional value (food)… not shiny yellow metal.

      And just to clarify the point above that Tommy had issue with… nothing about what he said with Nixon and inflation gave support to the equal rights movement. Even if we disagree about the cause (equal rights or forced income to support the family), the end result is the same… total “awesomeness” for gender equality.

      Finally, I would suggest that someone give evidence that there is a link of taking a country off a gold standard and requiring two incomes. As a point of reference, many people in the United States live in homes that are currently valued at 200K. Other countries, such as some in Africa, who may or may not be on the gold standard, might consider that to be the value of 100 times of their village’s economic output.

      The point is that there’s been no economic collapse related to going off of the gold standard. In fact, we should celebrate that the US had the foresight to lead the world (maybe some exaggeration here as history is not my strong suit) to value money as… well… money.

  3. Tommy z says:

    Gold has intrinsic value whereas fiat paper currency does not. To see why gold has value in and of itself, check this out:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/many-uses-of-gold-2012-9?op=1

    Money as we know it today is not really money because it does not meet the definition of money because it is not a store of value. It can be created at will on the printing press or at the press of a button on a computer.

    The next time you think about gender equality, ask the pregnant women behind the register ringing up your purchase if she really wants to be there working. To me, woman’s rights means woman should have the choice to decide if they want to work – not be forced into a job they otherwise would prefer not to have.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Sure there’s some functional value of gold. The article that you linked to showed it.

      Dentists used it for 3,000 years… but they don’t need to buy it for it’s functional value. And certainly they can continue their practice without paying hundreds or thousands an ounce. It is indeed a great conductor of electricity, as the article points out, but 50 cents worth in every cell phone is a pittance. There’s a lot more expense in Gorilla Glass and batteries, so you might as well collect those if you are looking for intrinsic value.

      You are correct about the money being created on a printing press. It’s why I like real estate and oil. Great functional value there.

      Men are forced into a job to provide for a family as well. You can ask a man behind the register if he wants to be their working. There’s really nothing about gender equality in taking jobs that we might not want to. I don’t know how many janitors wake up saying, “Yay, I’m going to get my clean on today!” I’m guessing it isn’t a lot.

  4. Cathy says:

    “As equal rights started to creep in we evolved into two-income families.”

    I would say, as American families began wanting more and more and “keeping up with the Jones'” we evolved into two-income families.

    You can live on one income, trust me. Whether it’s the man or the woman, it can be done. You just have to live within {or preferably UNDER} your means. I could write a novel on how the two-income family has deteriorated our culture as a whole and the role as parent.

    There’s nothing wrong with striving for the BMW and McMansion, but when you buy it before you’re financially secure, and then complain, whine, etc about how little time you have for family, you’re both working long hours, etc. you really have to look at what’s right for YOUR family circumstances and not the American “normal”.

  5. […] Man from Lazy Man and Money presents Is Being a Full-Time CFO the Wave of the Future?, and says, “In a lot of ways being a full-time family CFO simply means keeping an ear to the […]

  6. Big-D says:

    Here are some thoughts on this thread (I know – sniping several months after the post, but I have finally gotten time to read your past posts).

    I am also the CFO for my family. I am a single man, have primary custody (now living since he is in college) of my son, sole wage earner, have to do it all in terms of purchasing, bills, investing, etc. The funny thing is that I don’t mind. I find it relaxing. Numbers don’t lie (if you understand what they say) and they are easy to manage. Yes I make a lot of money but I also have 9 years of college under my belt and work hard with multiple jobs.

    The thing that I see is the issue with all the people who are struggling is their choices. Struggle is real and part of life. At every level. Choices are what make people who they are and what they will overcome to better themselves. In Cathy’s example of someone spending so much money to keep up with the Jones’s, they kill themselves if things do go perfectly. I have a house that works for me. I can have a house 5 times the cost, but don’t need it. My house is paid off, and I have zero debt. Why is this? I made choices.

    As for Tommy Z’s comments about the gold reserve and the currency, there is so much to blame here, but it is not the cause of dual earning families. Yes we have inflation, but not moreso than other countries with Fiat currencies. How the Fed is handling this I don’t know. Between audit the fed and audit fort knox/fed reserve gold movements, this is something which would show more if the fiat experiment worked or if it was a sham.

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