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On a daily basis, caring for your family entails everything from buying groceries to carpooling for soccer to helping with a science project. From the first steps to the first grandchildren your parental instincts are to give of yourself and protect your children. Beyond coaching little league and going on a college tour, providing your children with a strong financial education is one of the finest things you can teach your children. The primary way families teach their children about money is by example.
Giving - Give your children your time, energy and the things they need to succeed. But, do not give them your retirement savings. With all the financial pressure of sports, music and iPhones it is easy to forget the importance of establishing a family budget that includes saving for your own retirement and sticking to it. Teach your children the importance of saving by doing it yourself. As your toddlers grow into preteens include them in the budgeting/saving process. Let them have input into the discretionary line items so that they have a goal such as a family vacation and understand why you are saying no to the latest gadget. Saving for your future is not discretionary, however. If you do not do it, no one else will. Help your children to succeed by giving them the right tools, not all of your savings.
Protecting - There is a mama or papa bear in all of us and we will do anything to protect our children. One of the most important ways you can protect your family is by ensuring their financial stability if you experience a severe illness, injury or even death. Insurance will protect your family in the event that you cannot. A great vehicle for protecting your family is a solid long term care plan. We still want to protect our children even when they are adults. By having a long term care plan and a frank conversation with your adult children about your wishes you are protecting them from the emotional and financial burden of caring for you as you age.
Having your fingers crossed is not a plan. Most public schools do not teach fiscal responsibility. It is up to the families. If creating a budget and savings plan is not your area of expertise then reach out to a financial advisor who can help. Teach your children to care for themselves, by taking care of yourself first. Your children can take a loan for a car or college, but you cannot take a loan for retirement.