If a new child has entered your life, you are no doubt full of joy today and hopes for the future. And you can help make that future a brighter one for your child and your family by taking some important steps in these areas:
• College – Given the consistently rising costs of higher education, the earlier you start your savings and investment plans, the better off you will likely be. While it may be difficult to set aside money for education when you’re still a young family, planning to cram at the last minute is not a good idea. Time is one of your biggest assets, and delaying even a few years can have a big effect on your portfolio’s value.
In addition, just like regular attendance is crucial for success in school, setting aside money every month can help make a difference in reaching your family’s education savings goals. Developing a strategy for achieving your education savings goal can help you stay on track. And if you have other goals, such as saving for retirement, it’s important to address how they fit into your overall financial strategy.
• Insurance – If you did not have life insurance before, you may want to consider it now. Ask yourself: If something happened to me, would my child be able to stay in the same house? Receive an education? Enjoy a comfortable lifestyle? Even if you have an actively involved co-parent with a steady income, it still might not be enough to take care of your child in the way you would have wanted. Consequently, you may need life insurance – and you might need other types of protection, too, such as disability insurance.
• Estate plans – With luck, you will live to see your children as adults who have found their way in the world. Still, it’s best to be prepared for anything – which means you should draw up your estate plans well before they are likely to be needed. Among other things, you may want to name someone to serve as your child’s guardian if you – and your co-parent, if one is involved – are not around. And because a minor generally cannot inherit money or property, you may also want to appoint a conservator to act as a guardian over whatever financial assets your child might inherit until the child is of age, which will be 18 or 21, depending on where you live. Your legal professional can help you determine whether you should write a will and possibly create other estate planning documents, such as a living trust.
Even when you devote the time and money necessary to your new child, you can’t forget about yourself and your own needs – in particular, you must save and invest for retirement. Contribute as much as you can afford to the retirement accounts available to you, such as your 401(k) and IRA. After all, the more you put away, the less likely the need for your child to help support you later in life.
You’ll have much to think about when you welcome a new child to your family – ¬ but by taking the time to make the appropriate financial moves, you can help make the transition a positive one.