Each year when Father’s Day rolls around, I’m reminded that I wouldn’t trade the experience of raising my two kids for the world. But when I think back to how naïve my wife and I once were about the costs of raising children, I can’t help wishing we’d been better prepared.
If you’re a new dad, or about to become one, you’d better sit down. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Expenditures on Children by Families report, a typical middle-income family can expect to spend over $241,000 to raise a newborn child until age 18 — and that doesn’t even include prenatal care or college costs.
Right now, you’re probably more worried about getting enough sleep than funding your retirement. But at some point, you’ll need to plot out a financial roadmap to ensure your family’s future financial security. As one dad to another, here are a few strategies I’ve learned that can help:
Start saving ASAP. It’s hard to save for the future when you present expenses are so daunting, but it’s important to start making regular contributions to several savings vehicles, even if only a few dollars at a time:
- Establish an emergency fund with enough cash to cover at least six months of living expenses. If that goal seems unattainable, start small: Have $25 or $50 a month from your paycheck or checking account automatically deposited into a separate savings account so you never see it to begin with.
- Even if retirement is decades away, the sooner you start saving and compounding your interest, the faster your savings will grow. If your employer offers 401(k) matching contributions, contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match: A 50 percent match is the same as earning 50 percent interest on savings.
- Once those two accounts are well established, open a 529 Qualified State Tuition Plan to start saving for your children’s education. Read the guides at FinAid and the Securities and Exchange Commission for details.
If funding these accounts seems impossible, look for a few luxuries you could cut from your budget for six months — lattes, going out to lunch, premium cable, etc. After six months have passed, evaluate whether they were actual “needs” or simply “wants” you can live without.
Source: Huffington Post | Jason Alderman