by Shannon Serpette for Dadpadblog.com
Children learn by example – their little eyes are always studying you, watching what you’re doing. If you’re a mess when it comes to money, they’re going to notice and they’ll pick up your bad habits. By not getting your financial house in order, you could be setting them up for a lifelong path of money problems.
To dodge that bullet, there are 7 easy steps you can take.
Build an Emergency Fund
Ideally, you’ll have at least 3 months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund by the time it’s fully funded. But for now, you may be starting from scratch. If you’re building your way up from nothing, don’t worry. It’s going to take a while to get there, but it is doable.
Even if you start with $5 a week, make a commitment to putting that money into your savings account. You’ll sleep better at night and your kids will no longer witness you turning into The Incredible Hulk over unexpected expenses.
Purchase Life Insurance
I get that it sucks to think about dying, but it’s going to happen at some point. That might make you feel better or worse about things, but either way, it will hopefully propel you into action.
You don’t need to make your child a multi-millionaire with your life insurance policy, but you should make sure there’s enough there to provide the basics until they become old enough to take care of themselves.
Pay Off Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt, as most Americans do, you’re playing with fire. It won’t be fun, but you need to dig yourself out of that hole to secure your future.
Pick up any overtime you can at work or try to find an interesting side gig that will bring in decent money. Your goal should be paying that balance off as fast as you can.
If you have more than one credit card, you can tackle it two different ways. You can either start with the card that has the highest interest or you can begin paying off the card that has the lowest balance. Then once that card is paid off, take the money you had been throwing toward it and apply it to your remaining credit card. It may make more financial sense to hit the highest-interest rate first, but paying off the entire balance of your smallest card will give you a thrill and may keep you more motivated.
Get a Will
There’s no point in having assets if you don’t tell anyone what you want to happen to them when you die. Without a will, your relatives can squabble over your belongings and money in court for years. Even if you think your relatives would never do that, remember that some people lose their minds when it comes to money.
Protect your children’s future by taking action now before it’s too late.
Start Saving for Your Child’s Education
The years pass quickly and you never realize just how fast that time flies until you have children. You see them change drastically in appearance from month to month. Before you know it, they’re reaching that next milestone.
Make sure you prepare for their college years by ensuring you have some funds saved up for them in a 529 education savings plan.
In the meantime, keep busting their chops about bringing home good grades and participating in extracurriculars. Just because you have a nest egg saved up for their education doesn’t mean all the effort has to come from you.
Contribute to a 401k
With so many places to spend your money as a parent, it can be tempting to shortchange your future to make sure you have all your current needs covered. But that’s actually a terrible idea. You don’t want your child to have to spend their money to take care of you when you’re in your golden years. You need to be financially independent for their sake.
Teach Your Kids About Money
While this may seem more about your child’s financial health than yours, trust me, it will help both of you. Unless you relish the idea of your adult child living in your basement, sponging off of you, this one is something you need to work on while your child is young.
By instilling good money habits from an early age, you can lessen your risk of having a boomerang kid.
You’ll Be a Great Role Model
Money is one of the few things that isn’t covered much in school lessons, so you need to make sure to teach your child about it.
With these tips, you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you’ve done everything you can to protect and teach your children.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. When she’s not spending time with her children, she is often pursuing her favorite hobbies – running, metal detecting and kayaking. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.