5 things to look into when planning ahead for your family.
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In the whirlwind of our daily lives, we can easily get caught up in just surviving today’s schedule and preparing for tomorrow’s. It can be very difficult to devote enough attention to the things our family will need in the long term, but it’s critical that we do it. Carve out some time to address these five issues for your family.
One of the most difficult things to talk about is our plans for what will happen to our assets upon our death, but it’s essential. Setting things up properly can avoid a number of hassles and costs that will add to the pain of losing you.
A great way to handle this need is to establish a living trust. With the guidance of a living trust attorney, you can allocate your assets exactly according to your wishes, shielding them from things like nursing home costs, taxation, and state interference in the settling of your estate.
Much like your daily routine, your finances may be running week by week. It’s hard to think about retirement when you feel like your monthly bills are all you can handle. However, it’s vital that you contribute money for your retirement now in order to have the best possible quality of life in your golden years–and to be able to retire when you want to or need to instead of logging extra years on the job.
Take advantage of anything you can for retirement income. Your employer may have a matching program that will multiply your contributions, and many forms of investment are tax-sheltered, allowing you to save a dollar with less than a dollar’s reduction in your income. Use a retirement income calculator to get some numbers, but let the results create inspiration and not perspiration. It’s never too late to start.
Higher education for young children
When you’re changing diapers and helping Santa Claus, college can seem a long way off. Just like retirement, though, your children’s high school graduations will be here before you know it. Whether your kids aspire to a bachelor’s degree or if they plan to attend a trade school, it’s not likely to be free.
A good educational finance plan for your kids can make a big difference for them. The news is full of stories about the burden of student loans lasting for years and even decades after graduation. Every dollar you put away now is a dollar your child won’t have to borrow later one. It’s important to do all you can even if you can’t do it all.
Cutting mortgage costs
Your home is the largest asset you have. Many families invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their home. It’s easy to think of that monthly payment as just another bill to pay, but it is actually an investment. The more of those dollars that go to interest payments, the less go toward building equity in the home.
Watching mortgage rates can be a great financial move. Just a quarter-point reduction in the rate can lower your monthly payment significantly or, better yet, help you pay down the principal faster by continuing to pay the same amount after getting the lower rate in place. Never assume that you have the best possible rate; keep shopping around for a refinance opportunity.
This may seem like an unusual suggestion in the midst of so much financial advice, but in the long term, good health is an excellent financial investment. There are more and more instances every day of insurers providing breaks on premiums for plan members who take proactive steps like smoking cessation, weight loss, and lowering blood pressure. You’ll also save on copays and prescriptions by avoiding illness.
What’s great about healthy activities for your family is that they are cleverly disguised as fun. Going for a hike or a bike ride burns calories and improves cardiovascular health, but it’s also a great way to spend time together. The same is true of cooking new recipes together.
If your days and weeks are as hectic as those of most families, it can be tough to think about anything beyond the next month. Circle some dates on your calendar to take care of long-term needs like these.
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