If you're a mother, you'll probably get some nice cards and flowers on Mother's Day. But of course, your greatest gifts are your children themselves. And since you want to see them happy and financially secure, perhaps you can use this Mother's Day as an opportunity to consider ways to help your children at various stages of their lives.
So, let's take a look at steps you can take:
When Your Children Are Young
•Teach them to be savers — Encourage young children to put away part of their allowance, or any money they receive for household jobs, in a savings account. Offer to match their contributions dollar for dollar.
•Help them become investors — Consider giving your children a few shares of stock in companies with which they are familiar. By following the movements of their stocks with them, you can explain how the markets work and how increasing share ownership is one key to helping build wealth.
•Contribute to a college savings plan — One of the best things you can do to boost your children's chances of success in life is to help them go to college. You've got several good college-savings vehicles available, such as a 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and custodial accounts. Your financial advisor can help you choose the vehicle that suits your needs and objectives.
•Maintain adequate life insurance — When it was just you, it was a good idea to have life insurance — but now that you have a child, it's an absolute necessity.
When Your Children Enter the Working World
•Encourage IRA contributions — An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a great retirement savings vehicle. As long as your children have earned income, they can contribute to an IRA, so you may want to help them "max out" on their contributions each year. While you can't directly contribute to a child's IRA, you can write a check to your child and encourage him or her to use it for funding an IRA.
•Make long-term care arrangements — If you needed long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay, and you had inadequate financial preparations, the burden could fall on your children. Now is the time to consult with your financial advisor to begin preparing for possible long-term care costs.
When Your Children Reach Middle Age
•Communicate your financial situation and estate plans — Don't leave adult children in the dark as to your financial information. Share everything you can about how much you own, where you keep your assets and how you plan to eventually distribute them. By clearly communicating your situation and wishes now, you can avoid major problems later.
•Create a durable power of attorney — By creating a durable power of attorney, you can appoint another person, such as an adult child, to conduct your business and financial affairs if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. Such a move can help reduce stress your children may be feeling, while allowing them to make moves that can help preserve your finances.
Mother's Day commemorates the special bond that mothers have with their children. By following the above suggestions, you can help strengthen that bond throughout your lifetime.