Building Your Nuclear Family
Life is cyclical. As we reach one milestone, our hindsight sharpens and we can see clearly the steps that we did right, as well as the steps we stumbled over to get to where we are. And while the journey is undoubtedly part of the joys of living, planning that journey can help you prepare and anticipate the challenges you have yet to face.
Your Financial Life Cycle Blog Series will help you map the course for life’s milestone events. As part 1 of 3, Building Your Nuclear Family addresses a sequence of important life events that can often get overlooked in the early stages of adulthood as situations for which to prepare. Whether marriage or children are locked in goals or topics you’re on the fence about, Tobias Financial Advisors can tell you there are important facets that you should be aware of before you make a decision on either.
Finances and Getting Married
Marriage is a unique life event that is often the first domino to fall in the chain of life milestones after college. The union of two people, deciding out of their love for each other to commit and plan the rest of their lives together, can result in a multitude of satisfying personal and financial benefits. However, when any two things get mixed together, it can sometimes get a bit messy. Any planning you did solely for yourself should be duplicated and/or merged with your spouse to ensure both your financial needs are covered along the road ahead. Before saying “I do,” and even before the proposal, here are just a few questions to answer yourself or with the help of your family’s CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional:
- What goals would you like to accomplish before marriage?
- What is your budget for these goals?
- Do you or your significant other want a large or intimate wedding?
- Do you know whether having children is part of your future?
- How will bills and expenses be divided up and paid for after marriage?
Of course if you are planning on getting married, you should also discuss any individual goals or concerns with your partner as well as what ambitions you would like to achieve together. Getting in a routine about communicating your aspirations with yourself and your partner will help set the stage for the financial planning required to achieve them.
Financial Risk and Gains of Homeownership
Homeownership is another momentous decision that comes up for couples getting married or recently married. Bankrate recently reported that 74% of homebuyers purchased their home after marriage. With statistics like those, it’s likely that you and your spouse will engage in a conversation about real estate and decide whether to purchase your first home or perhaps a home that better suits both your needs. Seeking advice together from a mortgage broker, local real estate agent, as well as your CPA or CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, can help set your expectations, budget, and understanding of the homebuying process in today’s market. Homeownership opens up a dialogue to a multitude of other lifestyle questions that ultimately dictate how and what you decide to buy, i.e. children, travel, work, etc. The sooner these conversations start, the more you’re able to explore your options. During your homeownership meetings with real estate and financial professionals, be sure to find out:
- Your purchasing power: The maximum mortgage for which you are qualified.
- What price ranges put you at the optimal mortgage payment (Hint: The top price you qualify for may not be the amount you necessarily want to spend on your first home.).
- Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? How does either impact your negotiations on a house?
- What out-of-pocket expenses should you estimate for during the escrow period?
- What are the total fees and costs associated with purchasing real estate on top of your down payment costs?
- Do you have enough savings or gift funds to cover your down payment and closing costs at your preferred price point?
Purchasing real estate is a complicated process and can put a lot of stress on a couple in a short period of time. Getting a handle on the stages of the process will minimize that stress and prepare you both for the tasks ahead. In addition to helping you plan for costs and a down payment, your financial advisor can help you put together a savings plan for future repairs and determine the most effective way to take ownership based on your overall financial situation.
Financial Planning and Raising Children
It goes without saying that the decision to have children is a big one. For many couples, factors of biology, age, and simple timing are all areas to evaluate and include in the conversation before choosing parenthood. If you and your spouse do plan on growing your family, there are a few areas we recommend addressing to help you prepare:
- Make sure your insurance and health care provider will support your pregnancy and child’s birth in the manner that you desire.
- It’s never too early to set up a college fund to start saving for educational expenses down the road. Check out our recent posts on Education Saving Strategies and the ABCs of Education Savings Accounts.
- Discuss whether either parent plans on staying home or if you both think child care is something for which to budget.
Building a family, in whatever shape it takes, is one of the most worthwhile and satisfying parts of life, but it requires attention and care from all its members. Tobias Financial Advisors has helped numerous individuals, couples, and families plan for and prepare for the tough decisions so that they can focus on the people who mean the most to them. Your financial advisor is here to help advise you along every step of the way.
Please keep an eye out for our next article in this Your Financial Life Cycle Blog Series. We’ll be discussing financial planning for the unexpected life events.