You know what they say: the only constant in life is change—and for most of us, that’s especially true when it comes to family life. You’re probably thinking of all kinds of big changes that have impacted your life, from getting married to having kids, and maybe even becoming a caretaker for elderly parents or other family members. If you’re like many Americans, those changes have also meant adjusting your budget to account for new expenses.
With over half of today’s families, including children under the age of 18, it’s safe to assume that the cost of dependent and child care has a major impact on many people’s financial plans. After all, child care isn’t cheap—and while there are some tax benefits and programs available to help offset these costs, you’re going to want to make sure you plan ahead by making room in your budget for spending on daycare or babysitters as necessary.
Here are some things to consider as you plan for this possibility:
- Do what you can now. Start saving today (if possible) and automate it so it doesn’t even feel like extra work.
- Consider life insurance. If something happens to you, do you want your family to struggle financially? A life insurance policy could help them avoid that financial hardship. A term life policy can help provide temporary coverage while your children are young and dependent on you and your income. Then, when they’re grown, the policy is no longer needed.
- Consider disability insurance. This is important whether or not you have children relying on your income. Disability insurance can help protect your paycheck if an illness or injury prevents you from working for an extended period of time.
- Consider an emergency fund specifically for medical expenses if your children or aging parents have frequent medical expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance.
Finally, in your financial planning, consider that taking advantage of the costs benefits (equally shared) offered by a dependent care flexible spending account (FSAs) and payroll deductions for dependent and child care expenses could help to offset your caregiving costs – and allow you to take care of family while at the same time working.