With such busy lives, finances can be the last thing parents want to think about.
Money-related considerations may also kick off tricky conversations, such as what would happen if one – or both of you, if you are in a couple – were to die.
But by getting some key products in place and making sure you’re on track for the future, you’ll at least have some peace of mind.
If you’ve been putting financial admin off, it may be simpler than you think. Here are some of the basics parents might want to make sure they have covered…
1. An emergency fund
Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown (HL, hl.co.uk) suggests people should generally aim for emergency savings to cover three to six months’ worth of essential expenses for everyone they are financially responsible for, in a competitive easy access account.
HL/Oxford Economics research found 73 per cent of people had at least three months’ worth of essential expenses in emergency savings – but this fell to 68 per cent for parents, and 41 per cent for single parents.
Coles suggests setting up a direct debit putting money into a savings account on payday, before you have a chance to spend it.
She adds: “You can also consider some of the savings tricks that may be on offer through your current account or a standalone app. These may, for example, round up every purchase and put the excess into a savings account – to help you save without noticing.”
2. Children’s savings
A Junior Stocks and Shares ISA is
a tax-efficient way to invest in the stock market for your children 🇬🇧
The annual allowance is £9,000
Companies who offer JISA:
- AJ Bell
- Hargreaves Lansdown
— The Working Class Investor 🌴 (@ClassInvestor) April 10, 2021
“You don’t need to put an enormous amount away to make a big difference,” says Coles, with the average regular saver putting £87 a month into an HL Junior Isa (also known as a Jisa).
Of course, this won’t be possible for many families – especially with living costs so high right now – but any amount you can manage will be worth it in the long run, and it doesn’t have to be every month.
Coles adds: “You don’t have to do it alone, either. Among our current Jisa holders, a third are paid into by more than one adult. Grandparents are often keen to do something for their grandchildren, so they might be happy to pitch in with regular payments. If they’re not up for making monthly payments, family members might be happy to pay money in for things like birthday and Christmas presents.
“You can set up a Jisa online, and arrange a direct debit to pay regular monthly amounts into it.”
When a child reaches 18 their Jisa will roll into an adult Isa, and they’ll be able to access the money. Coles says: “More than 90% of HL Jisa clients still have money invested a year later.” As the fund grows, they might develop a sense of ownership over it, realising “by continuing to invest, they can keep benefiting from it throughout their life”.
“When you have children, it’s important to consider what would happen to you if both parents were to pass away, and include details of who you would like to be guardians,” Coles says.
To help make the process straightforward, she adds: “Make sure you speak to whoever you nominate in advance, so they understand what you’re asking of them, and have the opportunity to consider whether they’re prepared to take it on.”
And if you have more children, “You’ll need to check your will is up to date”, taking everyone into account.
Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva (aviva.co.uk), says people can get a free online state pension forecast to help estimate their entitlement.
McQueen adds: “Having done that, we should next understand how much private saving we have accumulated in private pensions to date, if any, and we should also clarify how much we are currently adding each month, including any money from our employer.
“If you think you may have lost track with a previous pension, the Government has a free Pension Tracing Service to help.
“And finally, with this information we should be in a position to estimate how much pension income we are currently on track to secure when we enter retirement.”
If your own retirement savings are on track, you could even consider starting a pension for a child. McQueen says: “A child is unlikely to get their hands on those gifts for another 50 or 60 years. However, like any savings goal, the earlier you start, the greater the benefit of compound returns.”
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Graeme Trudgill, executive director of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba, biba.org.uk) says families should be thinking about various policies – including home, travel, car and life insurance, income protection and critical illness cover.
Some households may find it harder to find cover if they don’t fit a ‘standard’ profile – for example, if their area is prone to flooding. Specialist directories on Biba’s website can make finding suitable cover easier.