Securing your child’s financial future is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. 83% of Americans can’t afford to pay for college while millennials currently earn 20% less than Boomers did. The rate of home ownership is also lower for millennials while student loan debts are much higher compared to their parents.
Reasons for the current state of affairs include globalization and slow salary growth. Financial planning ensures that your child will have funds set aside for college and be well taken care of in case of a catastrophe. Here are a few tips to help you plan for your child’s future.
1. Open A Coverdell Education Savings Account
An ESA (Education Saving Account) will enable you to deposit up to $2,000 annually towards your child’s college tuition. The plan allows the funds to grow tax-deferred. ESA’s aren’t just for college expenses; they can also be applied towards elementary and secondary school costs.
If you plan to invest more than $2,000 every year you may want to consider a 529 plan. It’s similar to an ESA plan except without the annual limit.
2. Consider A 529 College Plan
There are two types of 529 plans; pre-paid plans and savings plans. A pre-paid account allows parents to buy tuition credits for future use. The disadvantage of a pre-paid plan is that funds can only be applied towards tuition and not room and board.
A 529 savings plan consists of mutual funds investments which grow over time. Most plans consist of numerous investment options. Experts generally suggest investing more aggressively in stocks while the child is young and tapering off to a more conservative portfolio as your child gets older.
Financial experts suggest funding the account to the maximum amount as soon as your child is born in order to maximize future growth. Automating 529 contributions at set intervals will ensure that the account will grow at a steady rate.
3. Draft An Updated Will
USA Today reports that 64% of American’s don’t have a will. Creating a will is imperative when it comes to protecting your child’s financial future. You will also need to designate a guardian to take care of your children and name a property guardian to manage your estate. Drafting a will doesn’t have to be expensive; Quicken’s Willmaker is affordable and easy to use.
4. Update Beneficiary Information
Make sure to update beneficiary designation is up-to-date on your life insurance policy, bank and retirement accounts. According to Loren Barr, a probate attorney at Barr & Young Attorneys in San Francisco, CA, the information on the beneficiary designation form will override your will. It’s important to update this information after major live events such as the birth of a child or divorce. Experts also suggest naming a contingent beneficiary in case the primary beneficiary predeceases you.
5. Open A Custodial Account
A custodial account is one of the easiest accounts to open. It’s basically a savings account in your child’s name. The account will be accessible once your child turns 18 or 21 depending on their locality. The disadvantage is that the funds are taxable after the first $950. Your child will also have complete control once they become of age, which can either be a good or bad thing depending on their spending habits.
6. Get Life Insurance
Statistics show that only 62% of Americans have life insurance while 85% need it. 70% of households with minor children will have difficulties paying the bills if a primary wage earner were to pass away. The most common reasons for delaying life insurance is perceived cost. The average policy cost for a 35-year-old female non-smoker is just $61 per month. Inquire about life insurance in order to protect you family; it may be a lot cheaper than you think.
7. Save For Retirement
According to U.S News, the average Social Security benefit is just $1,180. Let’s face it; for most of us, that’s not going to be enough to live on. Saving for your own retirement can help your child’s future because they won’t have to provide for you financially in old age. If your work offers a 401k plan, start off by having a set amount of your paycheck deposited directly into your account. The earlier you start the more time you’ll have for your money to grow.
8. Talk To Your Kids About Money
Financial literacy isn’t always stressed adequately in school. Encourage your teen children to get a job and save for what they want instead of handing them over money. Talk to your kids about the basics such as how to manage credit cards, a bank account and how to budget. Knowledge is one of the best gifts you can give to your child when it comes to money management.