I Decided to Stop Futzing Around This Year With My Finances With Two Kids in College

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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“What ARE you doing?,” my son asked me last week before returning to college to start his second semester at USC.


“What does it look like? I have a mop in my hand.”


“I know what a mop is. I’m wondering what it’s doing in YOUR hand,” he smiled.


My family can be such smart Alecs, God bless ‘em.


It was actually a fair enough question. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t cleaned my own house top to bottom in decades. I’ve hired wonderful cleaners over the years having been spoiled pre-kiddo days when my then college-aged brother-in-law spent a summer living with us rent-free in exchange for paying a housekeeper to clean weekly. It was a luxury that I just was not willing to give up when he returned to school.


But alas, two kids in college at the same time has snuck up on me and our personal finances changed complexion last Fall prompting a hard look at what expenses can be trimmed.


It’s amazing how complacent I’ve been with recurring expenses that we’ve had for years without giving them a second glance. Insurance premiums, video and music streaming services, software subscriptions, housecleaners, gym memberships, car payments, grocery delivery service, lattes, dining out …. Ok, I think you get the picture. It’s actually quite embarrassing if truth be told.


Surprisingly, housecleaning was one of the last expenses I thought of to cut. I admit it was a tough decision too. I remember how proud I was the day I realized I could actually afford to hire housecleaners. It felt like a reward for my newfound career fresh out of law school.


But, I’ve since changed the story I tell myself about reclaiming the responsibility of cleaning my own home.


Cleaning my own house is NOT a step backwards or some sign of defeat that I cannot justify the expense during this season of my life.


No. Instead, I’ve changed the narrative about my new Sunday afternoon pastime.


No, I’m not one of those strange birds who find cleaning my house “strangely therapeutic.” (Yes, I have friends who tell me this. I hang out with some real weirdos.)


Rather, cleaning my own house has given me a renewed sense of pride in my space and my belongings.

Kristen Marks cleans her house1

I WANT to care for my things. I appreciate them more and see my “stuff” with fresh eyes when I have to dust it.


I WANT to honor my living environment and create a fresh and tidy space for myself.




I WANT to show my family that I love them and, strangely enough, the physical act of providing my husband and kids a clean, organized environment is one way I can demonstrate that love. (In case you couldn’t guess, “acts of service” is my love language.)


The fact that I’m saving a significant amount of money for my family in the process is a bonus.


Plus, the Sunday afternoon hours that I’m cleaning the house means that I’m not mindlessly snacking or online shopping during that time.


And dang, the house looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself. And I take pride knowing that I didn’t skimp and actually moved the furniture and rugs when vacuuming and mopping.


When I think about it, our estate planning clients also have a specific narrative about why they are getting their affairs and legacy estate plans in order.


Folks don’t work with us just to mark “getting a Will” off of their to-do list.


Our clients work with us because they know that a well-organized and current Legacy Estate Plan…


      • Provides them with peace of mind
      • Avoids confusion about their wishes
      • Will make things easy for their loved ones
      • Protects and secures their family
      • Alleviates the burden on their surviving loved ones
      • Prevents unnecessary delays in distributing assets…


to name just a few reasons clients tell us about why they plan with us.


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So, the next time you are facing what you might initially think is a daunting or uninteresting yet necessary task, I challenge you to change your internal narrative about the activity.


What benefit will come from the task’s completion? I’ll bet you that in most cases, the perks from the activity for yourself and your loved ones far outweigh the actual tediousness of the activity itself.


Will I always clean my own house after our kids are “launched” and self-supporting citizens in the world? Who knows.


But for now, I’m enjoying being a conscientious housecleaner.


Just don’t ask me to come clean YOUR house!


Kristen “Just Call Me Alice from the Brady Bunch” Marks


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