Your beautiful baby has arrived. The house is childproofed, you’ve got the pediatrician’s phone number posted on the fridge, and a brand new car seat sits in the back of your minivan. But physical safety is just part of the challenge. You also need a game plan that will keep your growing family financially safe. Here are some tips, both financial tax, that can help you build a sound financial base for the future.
1. Consider Life and Disability Insurance
From diapers to diplomas, the cost of raising a child can really add up. If something awful were to happen to you or your spouse, life and disability insurance offer a safety net to keep your loved ones’ financial lives on track. You can get an estimate of your insurance needs by using the online calculators at the non-profit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE).
2. Build an Emergency Savings Fund
You never know when your roof will spring a leak or when the job market will turn sour. Keeping six months of income in a savings account or money market fund can help weather life’s inevitable pitfalls. Try setting aside money at the beginning of the month, not the “extra” at the end – there’s rarely any extra!
3. Start Saving for College
Your baby may not even be crawling yet, but with college costs rising 40% in the last decade, it’s a good idea to start saving early. Consider opening a Section 529 college savings account. As long as you use the account for qualified higher education expenses, all distributions will be tax-free.
4. Let your employer help
Many employers offer flexible spending accounts which allow you to set aside thousands of dollars in pre-tax income to pay for qualified childcare and healthcare expenses. Depending on which tax bracket you are in, using these accounts can save you thousands of dollars a year.
5 . Claim the child care credit
Your baby brings a new dependent deduction for your tax return, but other benefits are available as well. Though child care is expensive, Uncle Sam can help take the sting away with a tax credit. If you work and pay for child care, until your child turns 13, you can claim up to 35% of the first $3,000 of expenses ($6,000 for two or more children). Nursery school, private kindergarten, after school programs and day care are all qualifying expenses.
The financial stakes rise considerably when you bring a new child into the world. As you travel the road to financial security, be sure to take time to enjoy your new baby!
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