The work of parenting can be all consuming – especially in the context of balancing busy work and social lives. Many parents feel that they should be doing “something” when it comes to financial planning, but don’t know where to start.
I suggest starting with the essentials. For parents out there who aren’t sure what to tackle, consider the following five tips:
- Build an Emergency Fund: With kids come unexpected expenses; missed work, medical bills, and childcare can all impair your monthly cash flow. Try to build up your emergency fund to create some wiggle room for yourself for the next time a baseball flies through the window.
- Life Insurance: If you passed away suddenly, what expenses would you want covered? They can add up quickly: a mortgage, college tuition, living expenses, childcare, income replacement, to name a few. Talk with your financial planner to weigh your options, policies, and coverage amounts.
- Estate Planning: Estate planning isn’t just for the aged or wealthy. Parents of minors will want to consider a few things: who should care for the kids, how expenses will be covered, who should look after the kids’ money, and when the kids should get control over their own assets. Communicate your wishes with your loved ones and formalize them through legal documents (such as a Will or a Testamentary Trust).
- Those Pesky Beneficiary Forms: Update your life insurance policies and retirement accounts to reflect your spouse/partner/children as primary or contingent beneficiaries. Or, if you’ve established testamentary trusts, identify the trusts. This will prevent unnecessary delays, efforts, or disputes in the event of your death.
- Education Saving Freebies: Check to see if your state sponsors a 529 plan. Some states have grant-based matching programs; some employers offer similar benefits. Be sure to take advantage of any such program to avoid leaving tax advantaged “money on the table”.
Working with a fee-only financial planner on an hourly basis can help you to tackle these projects one-by-one.
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