Keeping Your Finances In Shape During Parenthood
Submitted by guest writer- Sara Bailey
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Set Clear Goals
Your first step toward getting your finances on track is setting clear, achievable goals. Vague plans like, “I’d like to be better with money” isn’t a wise call. It’s admirable, but too nonspecific to be useful. After all, what does it mean to be “better with money”? Does it mean saving more for retirement? Keeping your credit card paid off? Spending less on take-out? Try to identify those specifics, and use them to come up with actionable goals.
Your next step is to come up with a list of steps to reach that goal. Let’s use “I want to keep my credit card paid off” as an example. You may need to start by pausing your card usage so you can get your payments back on track. Next, create a budget so you can save up for the payments. Then, commit to paying the card in full, each and every month. Actionable and measurable steps are the key.
Whatever your goals are, make sure you have a clear path toward completing them to set yourself up for success.
Save, Save, Save
Saving should be a financial priority for anyone, but parents have even more incentive to save than most. A main priority should be your retirement fund. The less you have put away for your golden years, the more financial stress you’ll put on yourself and your children.
You can also put aside money for your child’s future. Many parents do this in the form of an educational fund the child can use for college, trade school, or other classes past high school. This will allow your child to get a head start in the job world without taking on a huge student debt load. Even a small amount of assistance at this stage in their life can ease the pressures of school so they do not feel burdened by debt at such a young age.
Prepare for the Unexpected
It can be difficult to imagine your kids going through life without you, but it’s important to consider what will happen to them financially after you die. Speak with a lawyer to ensure that their inheritance and guardianship is set in place, so you can rest easy knowing they’ll be well taken care of without you.
You should also take out a term life insurance policy to further secure your children’s financial stability in the event of your death. It’s easy to convince yourself you can get that when you’re older, but that’s not your wisest choice. The younger and healthier you are when you get term life insurance, the better rates you’re likely to get – and those premiums are often set in stone for decades. You can learn more about the rates available to you by getting a quote.
Build a Fun Budget
One of the most rewarding parts of parenting is getting to provide good times and happy memories for your kids. By building this expense into your budget, you can make sure that going out and spending time with your family won’t break the bank.
Set aside a certain amount of money each month that will go toward a fun outing or special treat for your kids. If you don’t wind up spending it all each month, you can put anything left over toward a family vacation. Remember, the time you put into your kids now will pay off, and you will be stronger family for it.
Pass On Financial Wisdom
One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is a firm understanding of how to manage their money. Few schools teach money management; only five states require that high school students take a personal finance class. Moreover, theoretical learning will never have the impact that practical teaching will.
Give your kids an allowance, and help them to learn the best ways to use it. Build a budget together, and help them to set their own saving and spending goals. Then, have family budget check-ins where they can evaluate their own progress. This simple exercise will help to prepare them for entering the world on their own.
Finances become more important when you’re a parent. Tackling them head on will put you and your family in good shape for the present and the future. These skills are the best gift you can give you kids, and they will last longer than any video game system ever could.
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