Financial planning essentials for young families
The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .
If you have never taken care of an infant, you might be learning all kinds of new skills, like how to change a diaper or how to tiptoe through the house without making a peep. While you might be set on becoming a diaper-changing pro, don’t forget about your finances and especially your retirement.
Raising a human is expensive. That can be a huge problem if you don’t have a plan, but it’s a challenge you can overcome if you take the right steps. Here are the things you need to consider for your new family’s finances.
Start a budget
One of the challenges of having a baby is all the expenses that come with it. It’s important to take these expenses into consideration so you can adjust your budget as needed. First, you must plan for common expenses like diapers, formula (or a breast pump), a car seat, a crib, clothes and baby toys.
We all know about these items, but you may not know how much they will cost you. The exact cost will vary by family, but you can still estimate them. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average family spends between $20,000 and $50,000 in the first year of the child’s life, depending on location and household income.
Build an emergency fund
Next, having an emergency fund is important whether you have children or not. But adding another little person to your nest creates additional concerns. Of course, there is nothing to stress over if you prepare for them. For instance, the loss of a job can sting even more if you have a small human depending on you. After all, they won’t stop getting hungry if your finances take a hit.
Generally, experts recommend six to nine months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund, or more. If you don’t have an emergency fund or can’t go at least six months without work, it’s time to set aside some money. The first way to do that is by cutting expenses, such as streaming services or by finding cheaper car insurance.
However, some families are already running a barebones operation. If that is the case and you still don’t have anything extra, it may be necessary to increase your income. You can potentially do this by learning new skills and asking for a promotion at work. Or you can pick up an online side hustle. Whatever you decide, start putting some money aside in a high-yield savings account every month.
Up your retirement contributions
Anyone who has flown before knows the saying, “secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” Prioritizing your own retirement future before helping others, even your own children, is an important financial strategy. By securing your own retirement first, you ensure that you won’t be a financial burden to your family down the line. This helps you build a strong financial foundation that will provide you with peace of mind in your golden years. Also, by taking care of your own financial well-being, it puts you in a better position to assist and support others in the future.
Plan for your child’s education
After you set up your retirement future, next is planning for a child’s education. You know they will likely be in school until they are at least 18, but things can get murkier after that. However, take a look at your family. If everyone in the family has pursued the college path, your child might do so too. The cost of college has increased rapidly, so it’s smart to start saving now if you think college is in your child’s future. But remember, be sure to focus on your own retirement first though before attempting to save for your child’s college education.
There are many ways to save for college, including 529 plans, UTMAs and Coverdell ESAs. 529 plans are generally the most popular route but look into the various college saving plans. Let’s face it: college is expensive, so the sooner you get started, the better.
Update insurance coverage
Lastly, it’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage and update it as needed. If you don’t already have life insurance, now is a great time to purchase it. While it isn’t an enjoyable topic to think about, being prepared is much better than the alternative. It may be best to meet with a financial advisor, who can guide you on how much coverage you need. While that means paying an additional fee, it will be worth it because you’ll be prepared for whatever the future may hold.