Family Planning Starts with a Checklist

Family Planning Starts with a Checklist

by Gregory Litts on Feb 26, 2015

After he heard the news – after the celebration and cheer – Thomas Brown made a list. The doctor had just confirmed that his wife, Misty, was pregnant with their first child, and as an Investment Advisor with RJ Capital, Thomas knew the importance of planning to make sure his growing family had a secure financial future.

And that starts, he said, with making a list of the various decisions that have to be made and the plans that need to be set up.

“Making that checklist is an important first step because it lets you prioritize what needs to be done now and what can wait,” said Thomas, whose son, Hudson, was born Jan. 10.

At the top of that list should be sitting down as a couple and discussing what the new family will look like, he said. Will you use daycare? Will one parent stay home or cut back on work hours? What "stuff" do you need, and how will you get it?

Those decisions will guide any financial planning, Thomas said. “It lets you get a handle on how this will work.”

Other items on the list include investigating maternity and paternity leave options, signing up for short-term disability, and bumping up the value of life-insurance policies. Thomas recommends that parents each have $1 million in life insurance.

Items a little lower on the list that can wait until after the baby is born include adding the baby to your health insurance plan, determining who would be the baby’s guardian if you both die when he’s still a minor, and starting a 529 college savings plan.

“A child does increase your cost of living," Thomas said. "But with some solid planning, your future can remain secure.”

You can get a general checklist for new parents at https://www.fidelity.com/investment-guidance/having-a-child-checklist. But Thomas can help you draft a customized checklist, as well as help you put a timeline on it, collect life-insurance quotes, explore 529 options and refer you to an estate-planning attorney. Contact Thomas Brown at Thomas@RJCap.com or 713-568-9780.