To plan for family finances is to identify the financial goals of the family and to strategize towards said goals, drawing up the steps that the family as a unit will move towards stability and preparedness for the unexpected. Family finance planning manifests in different ways throughout a lifespan. From the first days of becoming a family down the line to generations to come, families have many needs, goals, and issues to tackle as a team.
Different types of families will have different sorts of problems. A cohabiting family will have a different set of problems from a legally married family, and single-parent households have distinct needs compared to blended families.
There are, however, life events that many families share, and we can look at how different family finance planning is needed throughout life. Below are some of the milestones that may mark a family member’s need for financial planning.
For those who opt for it, getting married is a major turning point in life. Many aspects must be considered when taking this large step, and finance is no exception. From the initial discussions of weddings down to the early days as newlyweds, couples must work together to ensure a smooth transition to married life, avoid finance-related turbulence, and lay the foundation for how to work on financial issues together as a family.
Many marital problems stem from financial issues. Marriages are tested or even dissolved due to the inevitable, challenging nature of money-related stress. While it is near impossible to avoid, couples can work to face these problems together and mitigate potential lead-ins. Preventive action can be taken as early as before any plans of marriage proposals are on the table through clear communication between partners regarding their finances. Below are some related actions the couples can follow:
Signing a prenup
Among topics that should surface are debts, financial habits, properties, and plans. One’s attitude towards money should be put into consideration when proposing marriage. Do talk to future spouses regarding prenuptial agreements or prenups, whether you’d like one or opt not to. A prenup can protect your assets, funds, and potential inheritance, as well as your partner’s.
Agreeing on a shared account
A married couple’s finances can take many forms. Couples can choose to keep their finances completely separate with agreements on who takes care of which spendings, meet halfway with both a joint spending account in addition to personal accounts, or go all in and merge all incoming and outgoing finances in a single shared account. This decision is the couple’s to make and must be the fruit of a thorough, fair discussion that both parties wholeheartedly agree to.
Setting financial goals
Another arrangement that couples should consider is the amount of money allocated to different expenses such as bills, mortgage or rent, personal spending, or savings. To have stable finances, couples can lay down detailed goals for different needs and plans. These goals can be short-term (e.g. household expenses), medium-term (e.g. having children), or long-term (e.g. retirement).
Preparing for children
The joy of having children is often accompanied by financial stress as families prepare to take care of a new family member. Expectant parents are met with expenses ranging from pregnancy, childbirth, adoption funds, baby or child stuff, and even services such as surrogacy, nannies, and insurance.
While it may seem daunting to prepare for children financially, a well-planned budget can help prevent money troubles from taking away the excitement of welcoming a new bundle of joy to the family.
Financial planning can start from the very first month of gestation for families going through a pregnancy. The first trimester is laden with cleaning up debts, credits, and insurance plans, as well as laying down the groundwork for baby funds. The second trimester is associated with preparing for parental leave, childcare arrangements, nurseries, and more. In addition to medical and childbirth costs, the third semester is time to shop for the baby’s needs, such as clothes and toys. Plan such expenses well and consider potential financial aid from relatives or friends in gifts, hand-me-downs, or even money.
Sending children to school
One important part of raising a child is putting them through school. Planning for education is not as simple as starting a new savings account and putting a certain amount of money into it every month. It requires attention to the child’s needs and interests, understanding the family’s financial capabilities to fund education, and setting a standard for education.
Getting an insurance plan
While parents might think they’re in the clear once the child is safely brought home, the costs of raising a child begin to expand as they get older. One of the initial steps to take is to add children to the family health insurance plan. Parents should set up emergency funds in anticipation of unforeseen circumstances and increased expenses. The hectic, sleepless days of early parenthood will benefit from well-thought-out finances.
Preparing for the elderly life
Preparing for retirement should be done as early as possible. Understanding sources of income and savings that will last well into retirement age is essential to ensure a hassle-free financial situation in later life. In addition to pensions, government aid, and retirement savings, investments made earlier in life can help stabilize finances in old age and be passed down to the next generation.
Making wills and settling mortgages, debts, and estates are among the most important financial decisions an individual will make late in their lives. With old age also comes additional needs, such as potential medical and care expenses. The help of trusted family members or finance experts can help older individuals manage their finances and avoid any issues that may occur.
Unforeseen life events
In addition to life milestones previously mentioned, family stresses such as divorce and separation, illness, and sudden deaths among others can cause an unforeseen financial crisis the family may not be ready for. This is where emergency savings, insurance plans, and frugality comes in. Such situations will show how families can reap the fruit of previous financial decisions and planning. At one point or another, financial emergencies will occur in every family. Wise and fair financial decisions are the key to dealing with these unpredictable life events.
Money can be a taboo subject to talk about with family. However, one will find that communication and socialization are keys to stable family finances and avoiding finance-related stress. While talking issues out with family members can be a way out of many problems, experts and professionals such as therapists, accountants, and financial advisors can lend a helping hand when money becomes a thorn in the family relationship. To conclude, like many other aspects of family life, openness, care, honesty, and an orientation toward the future are of the essence when it comes to family finances.
If you would like to know more about family finance, visit the the Family Science Labs. Using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science, the lab produces courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other learning materials. Check out the Family Science Labs today.
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