Honey I Can't Afford The Kids
Sex has a lot to answer for ? babies usually ? which then with time and much financial investment grow up to be beautiful mutations of their parents. Yet as the family absorbs more money as it grows, the need for financial planning and protection becomes more important. So, where do you start and how do you move your finances forward?
First of all there are "The Considerations":
* If surplus funds become available, could these be invested? If so, will you choose a medium or long term investment?
* Will you need an emergency fund?
* Will you need to save for short-term events such as Christmas, holidays and birthdays?
* Are you ready to save for a pension? Do you need to include your partner in a pension plan?
* How much financial planning do you want to do your children? For example, is private education an option or priority and do you want to start saving for university fees?
* How much borrowing will you need to do for buying a home and is it worth considering a mortgage payment protection plan?
* Is life insurance or life assurance worth considering as security for your partner and family?
* Do you need income protection insurance?
* Are all of your belongings and possessions adequately covered by household insurance?
Then there are "The Resources":
* Have you taken advantage of all the family finance government initiatives involved? These include Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits, Child Trust Funds (CTFs) and the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme. Directgov is an excellent resource for information on public services (http://www.direct.gov.uk/Homepage/fs/en )
* Do you have the best possible deal on your finances? This includes your credit card, any secured or unsecured loans, your mortgage, remortgage and insurance. If you're not sure, it's not difficult to do some investigative homework. Moneyfacts ( http://www.moneyfacts.co.uk ) and Moneynet ( http://www.moneynet.co.uk ) are two popular sites for consumer research on financial products. If you live in the US, the website Lowermybills may prove helpful (http://www.lowermybills.com/ ).
And that's just when the kids are still young. Once they're well established at school, you may wish to still evaluate the emergency fund, medical insurance and protecting your income against illness. The risks may change as the family develops so don't think that financial planning is a one-off event. Keep these issues in mind as your funds change.
As you get older you may wish to consider writing your will and inheritance planning, planning for long-term care, protecting your capital, continuing your income should anything happen to your partner and even indulging your grandchildren. There are a variety of publications from companies such as Which? that can help you tackle what may seem like impossibly complicated tasks.
If you're aware that one of the above issues needs to be tackled, don't neglect the gut feeling. Ask around for financial advice, but be aware that you need to be the decision maker, so gather as much information as you can and then make an informed decision. If the advice is conflicting, accept that financial success may always be based a little on luck and risk, though nothing excuses thorough research and planning. Read the papers, surf the web and ask around: the information is accessible!
Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla:
Cashzilla is a personalfinanosaurus.
"Rachel" means sheep in Hebrew: "little lamb" or "one with purity".
Cashzilla means financially savvy with great fiery ferocity.
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