March 8, 2021
It’s never too early or too late for parents to get a handle on their finances. What’s important is that you personalize the financial planning strategies for your particular situation so you can achieve your goals. Need some direction? The following tips can help get you started.
Have You Set a Budget?
If you have a budget in place, great! You just need to make sure it’s accurate and that you maintain it. If you don’t have a budget or you’re not sure if the one you have is sufficient, then use this helpful information from Debt MD to guide you. When preparing your budget, use the figures from your income and expenses. You’ll have to balance your checkbook by keeping track of your expenses, and while you can certainly do that with a notebook, there are also online software tools that can help. If you have debt, then you’ll need to make plans for how to manage it and better yet, pay it off. It’s advisable to make your payments on time and pay more than just the minimum. While repaying your debt, make sure to keep an eye on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio.
Create an Emergency Fund
According to Money Crashers, you need to think about the short-term and long-term when planning your emergency fund. Short-term emergency funds are meant to cover major car repairs and the repair or replacement of broken major appliances. Funds like these need to be as liquid and accessible as possible. Long-term emergency funds, on the other hand, are supposed to cover larger-scale issues like the loss of a job or damage caused by a major natural disaster. These funds should also be liquid, but it’s alright if they take a few days to become accessible.
Whichever fund you’re trying to build, experts suggest that you have at least six months’ worth of expenses stashed away. You can also build your emergency fund by saving money in other ways like using coupons when buying groceries and shopping for clothing at thrift stores.
Reassess Your Recurring Expenses
Another way you can cut down on your expenses is by decreasing utility bills and auto insurance. Where your utility bills are concerned, you can adjust the temperature on your hot water heater and wash your clothes on your washing machine’s cold water setting. If possible, you should look into caulking your windows and installing a more efficient showerhead in your bathrooms. It’s also suggested that you use smart power strips and switch to energy-efficient appliances when your current appliances need to be replaced.
For auto insurance, there are a number of ways you may be able to get discounted rates. If you have a comprehensive insurance plan, you can reassess to find out if a more basic plan would work for you. If you need to or prefer to have full coverage, then you could ask about discounts when bundling plans or for being a safe driver. If it’s time to renew your policy, don’t be afraid to shop around and compare rates. Once you find ways to cut costs, you can channel the extra money into your emergency fund or debt repayment.
Prepare for the Long-Term
As you look further into your financial future, there are likely two equally important issues sitting on the horizon: your children’s college fund and your retirement fund. Fortunately, this article from Parents.com will show you the way to take care of both. It’s suggested that you not only keep saving toward retirement but also that you’re saving enough to get a matching contribution from your employer. You should also take advantage of any available 529 plans in your state that will allow you to put away money for your children’s college education. If your child is close to graduating soon, make a point to research scholarship opportunities so you can know what your children may be eligible for.
In addition to retirement and college planning, consider investing in life insurance as well as long-term care insurance if you’re almost 50. Life insurance provides your family with a bonafide safety net if something should ever happen to you. This death benefit can supplement the loss of your income, pay off any lingering debt and even go toward paying for your burial. Long-term care insurance isideal too, especially if your family has a history of disease or illness. Many people make the mistake of thinking that Medicare will pay for long-term care, but this is a myth. By signing up for long-term care insurance sooner, you can avoid higher premiums, and you’ll have more peace of mind knowing that you’ll be taken care of and that your retirement savings won’t take a significant hit.
Financial planning may seem daunting if you’ve never tried to be strict about your money before. However, if you approach it systematically with a detailed plan, you’ll see how well things start to fall into place, and that will give you peace of mind as you move through parenthood.
When it comes to laying the foundation for a strong financial future, eliminating debt should be a high priority. For assistance in paying down your debt through consolidation loans or other method