Are you a stay-at-home parent? Make sure you protect yourself and your family by following these 5 money rules specifically for you!
1. Prepare for the unexpected
Being prepared is a given when it comes to caring for our children but how about our finances? As military spouses and parents, we know how quickly life can throw us a curveball. So how do we prepare for that which we can technically not prepare for (i.e. the unexpected)? Have these 2 legal documents in your bugout stash: a will and a power of attorney for your children.
Every adult person needs a will. If you have children, the need is that much more. In a will you can establish guardianship for your children as well as distribute your assets in the event of your untimely death.
Remember this: Wills are not for the dead, rather they are for the living. They make life easier for your family in your absence. Unpleasant to discuss. Totally necessary to have.
I know I’m preaching to the choir when I discuss the importance of having a power of attorney (POA) on hand. Typically we have one for our military partner, but how about POA for your children ?
We provide power of attorney (POA) for our children to my parents and renew it as required. The POA grants my parents the authority to act as my kiddos’ guardians in my absence…perfect for extended visit’s to Nana and Papa’s house.
2. Plan for the worst
Divorce has an overwhelmingly negative impact on stay-at-home parents but specifically for stay-at-home moms. Women who choose to stay at home often sacrifice potential earning power, career development opportunities and end up with significant gaps in their job history. You can read more about the economic impact of divorce on women by visiting LIVESTRONG.
Protecting yourself from divorce is not something we want to even have to think about. I love my husband and I trust him completely. I have faith in my marriage and the strength of our relationship.
There are, however, 2 things I do not possess:
- the ability to read his mind
- a crystal ball
As much as I trust us, I cannot, in good faith, say “never.” I have no idea what time or the future has in store for us, but I know that, without his income, I’m vulnerable.
Staying at home is a choice I’ve made that has come with calculated risks. Are you protecting your future while you stay at home?
Disability & Death
By no means are disability and death the one in the same, but the action you need to take in order to protect yourself from these two threats is insurance. Both you and your spouse need to have adequate insurance coverage in the event of death or disability. As a military spouse, you and your spouse are probably covered by SGLI and FGLI which is, at its core, term life insurance coverage.
Disability insurance is a lesser known and even less understood insurance policy by most. You can read more about disability insurance by checking out Quick and Dirty Tips and this Money Girl article about disability insurance.
3. Don’t turn a blind eye to the family finances
Just because you’re not the money manager in your household doesn’t mean that you’re excused from knowing what is going on with the family finances. “I am just not good with money” or “He handles the money” are not sufficient excuses to ignore your family’s personal finances.
How do you handle money as a couple? Read our article about managing your money and your relationship, Yours, Mine and Ours.
If something were to happen to your spouse, like an unexpected death, do you know the bare bones to run your home, like when the bills are due or how much your family earns and spends each month? Do you know how much debt your family is carrying? Do you know where the passwords are to the online banking and bill paying accounts? Do you know if you have emergency savings? Are you an authorized user or a joint account holder for the checking, savings, loans and credit card accounts? There’s a difference.
Several years ago I realized that, as the money manager, I was doing a horrible disservice to my spouse if I didn’t inform him about our finances. I was horrified. Now we sit down at least 3 times a year to review our personal finances. You should do the same.
4. Invest in yourself
Even if it seems far, far away, one day your children are going to head out on their own and do wonderful things in the world. What are you doing to prepare for that inevitable transition? Will you go back to school or work?
If you’re not actively thinking about and investing in your future, you are selling yourself and your potential short.
Start establishing a goal timeline for yourself to figure out where you want to be in the next 10, 15 0r 20 years. If you have a dream, there’s no time like the present to start figuring out how to make that dream a reality.
5. Save for your retirement
Yes, one day, you will retire. Hubby and I have grand retirement plans, so we’re working hard now to be able to fulfill our senior years dreams. Hubby has the benefit of a pension and retirement savings with his Air Force career.
When I worked, I set aside in my employer’s 401k, but when I stopped working, so did my contributions.
Did you know that stay-at-home parents can save for retirement with a spousal IRA? Check out SmartMoney’s Guide to Spousal IRAs for more information.