When it comes to financial planning, people often think of financial professionals as people who assist with strategies for retirement planning. That is one aspect of their job; however, financial planning and working with a financial professional can benefit anybody who experiences life-changing events, including getting a new job, marriage, debt repayment plans, buying a house, and more. As the world becomes more complex and events unfold throughout your life, a sound financial strategy is critical in pursuing the financial confidence, monetary goals, and quality of life you desire.
Are you financially prepared for a life-changing event? This checklist is the first step to help you prepare for these events now or in the future.
☐ Getting married
Getting married is an exciting time. Two people have fallen in love, and whether it is their first time at the altar or they are giving it a second chance, they are preparing to spend a lifetime together. However, weddings are not just about champagne, cake, and presents. It also combines two lives into one: physically, emotionally, and financially.
One of the most common stressors that couples face in marriage is their financial situation. Consulting a financial professional as you transition into married life may help mitigate some of the unease and unforeseen challenges that appear. A few things a financial professional could help you with include:
· Creating a budget
· Designing a savings plan for retirement goals
· Preparing an emergency account for unexpected events
· Learning about and planning for possible risks
☐ Buying a house
A home might be the largest purchase you make in a lifetime. Financial professionals do more than help you budget and create strategies for retirement. They can also help people when it comes time to buy a house. There are financial aspects to purchasing a home that can blindside homebuyers later on down the road. Learning what steps to take beforehand can help you mitigate unnecessary issues in the future. Some of these concerns may include:
· What is your break-even point and how long will it take to recoup the costs?
· Do you have the cash for the down payment (enough not to have to pay private mortgage insurance and an additional monthly fee to protect the lender from a default on your loan) and for closing costs?
· Besides the mortgage, what other expenses should you be aware of? Are you prepared to pay for homeowners insurance, property taxes, utilities, and other unforeseen costs?
· Would a down payment assistance program affect your short-term or long-term financial goals?
☐ Birth of a child
Raising children is a costly undertaking. According to CNBC, raising a child costs more than $230,000 for a middle-class couple until the child leaves home, and that doesn’t include college expenses. More than ever before, parents are turning to financial professionals for help with navigating their financial circumstances as they plan how to pay for childrearing expenses. Although these numbers will not be the same for everyone, here are a few annual costs involved in raising a child to consider:
· Childbirth or adoption: $4,500 to $43,000
· Housing: $3,750
· Food: $2,794
· Healthcare: Can vary significantly
· Daycare and education: $37,400
· Clothing, Toys, and Miscellaneous: $2,856
· Transportation: $1,947
☐ Changing jobs
You might be switching jobs or embarking on a new career path, and it is an exciting time; however, depending on the circumstances, it can also be stressful. How can a financial professional assist you? Each person’s situation is different, but some decisions you may encounter that could affect your financial plans include:
· Comparing benefit packages or incentive stock options
· Enrolling in your new retirement plan
· Deciding what to do with your old retirement account
· Determining the new job’s impact on current and long-term strategies
· Potential relocation costs
☐ Saving for college
The cost of a four-year college these days is closing in on the cost of a medium-sized house, and in 2023, the average cost of attending a four-year U.S. college will be $28,210 for residents and $38,394 for out-of-state students annually. The cost to attend a private four-year school is even higher at $43,795.
If a young parent begins saving for their child’s college at birth, perhaps $500 a month and assuming an annual return of 6%, when the child reaches 18, you could potentially have around $190,000. A financial professional can help parents determine which college savings plans could work with their financial strategy. Here are some options to consider:
· Financial aid and scholarships
· 529 plan
· Coverdell Education Savings Account
· Custodial accounts
· Personal savings
· Permanent life insurance
☐ Death of a spouse
Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult events we can experience. Along with coping with the grief and managing a funeral, the surviving spouse will also have financial decisions that require their attention, for example:
· Managing tangible assets and updating what is needed
· Updating financial accounts
· Preparing funeral and memorial service expenses
· Reviewing short-term financial concerns
· Reviewing long-term financial goals and strategy
In the United States, 35%-50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. Although each situation will be unique, overall, the divorce process can be emotionally draining and financially complex. Consulting a financial professional can help you learn more about your current circumstance and how post-divorce may impact you financially. Helpful documents a financial professional might analyze to help you manage your finances through this difficult time may include:
· Bank statements
· Credit card statements
· Life insurance policies
· Documentation of other income streams
· Mortgage statements
· Investment portfolio statements
· A list of debts
· Pension information
☐ Diagnosis of a terminal illness
When a doctor diagnoses a loved one with a terminal illness, it is a very emotional time. There will inevitably be financial implications and people experiencing the impact of the diagnosis may find it challenging to consider these decisions with a clear mind. A financial professional can help families develop a financial plan and get their affairs and assets in order according to their wishes. Here are a few estate planning steps to consider:
· Organize legal, financial, and other important documents
· Update beneficiaries
· Create a plan for health care expenses
· Designate a durable power of attorney
· Arrange care for any dependents
· Consider options for end-of-life care
☐ Planning for aging parents
Taking on the responsibility of caring for aging parents can be rewarding. However, it may also be emotionally and financially daunting. There are health care and home care costs, housing expenses, and an uncertain amount of time involved. Making these decisions should be considered with both compassion and clarity so you can better plan for your parents’ health care needs. It is a sensitive topic and, as a third party, a financial professional may be able to help you explore your options and assist with:
· Budgeting both short-term and long-term fiduciary responsibilities
· Performing a comprehensive review of all assets and debts
· Create a manageable strategy for paying debts down
· Setting up payment plans for ongoing expenses
· Preparing for unexpected costs or emergencies
☐ Starting a business
When you decide to start a business, many moving parts come into play and you could face numerous financial challenges and complexities. Business owners create businesses for a number of reasons, from a love of the industry to financial viability. However, all business owners have something in common: financial decision-making. Whether you are in the startup phase or you have been in business for years, working with a financial professional can help you:
· Manage any mistakes that might occur
· Navigate the risks involved with financial decisions
· Design short-term and long-term strategies and goals
· Provide guidance on keeping your personal and business finances separate
· Create money management and budgeting strategies
Are you ready to start planning your future today?
Inevitably, some events that happen to us will be life-changing; however, with a little help and preparation, these events don’t have to lead to financial ruin or hardship. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Planning today is the first step to a confident tomorrow. Whether you are embarking on a new journey and need some direction or looking for someone to help you navigate and update your old financial roadmap, schedule an appointment with your financial professional and start planning your future today.
Sources: Things Financial Planners Wish You Knew About Buying a Home (realtor.com) 2023 Average Cost of U.S. colleges (collegetuitioncompare.com) Here’s some advice financial advisors offer to new parents (cnbc.com) Divorce Rate by State 2023 (worldpopulationreview.com) A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning (2023) (survivedivorce.com) A Breakdown of the Cost of Raising a Child - The Plutus Foundation Managing Finances During and After Divorce: 8 Considerations | Comerica
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