Seven Life Events That Can Impact Your Finances in a Major Way
Many events in life can change our financial situations, and while we can prepare for some of them, others may come as a surprise. For that reason, it's generally considered a good idea to plan for the unexpected; you can do this by setting goals for your savings, having a cash cushion and an emergency fund, and establishing an overall budget.
Enrolling in College or Trade School
"College has a significant impact on either a student's or a family's finances. The cost of tuition is very high and constantly on the rise. This is why parents should have money set aside for it, and students should look into applying for federal government aid or a student loan," explains Gonzalez. "However, the payoff is also typically higher for those with a college degree. People with a higher education have much bigger earning potential throughout their lives."
Many older adults are also still paying back their student loans. Knowing your options and applying for payment plans that are based on income can ease the burden; repayment should be included in budget planning.
Buying a House
Not everyone has a desire to own their own home, but for those who do, buying a house can impact your finances in a major way. "Buying a house is something that you really need to plan and financially prepare for ahead of time. When deciding to buy a home, you should first figure out how much you can afford, and start saving for a down payment," advises Gonzalez. "Typically, it's best your down payment is at least 20 percent of the value of the house. Of course, the higher the down payment, the lower your mortgage rate will be."
Weddings, Marriage, and Divorce
Relationships also have an impact on finances. Weddings and honeymoon vacations are both costly, so it's a good idea to put money aside for these expenses ahead of time. "Marriage, on the other hand, affects your finances in many ways," says Gonzalez. "It can have an impact on your ability and the way you save, build wealth, or plan for retirement. Marriage can also help your finances by allowing you to benefit from tax- and insurance-related advantages." Couples who are living together should work out how they will merge finances as well as what they will keep separate.
And in the case of a divorce, "there are a lot of implications," says Gonzalez. "The extent of its effect on your finances will depend a lot on your financial situation and your understanding of it."
Birth and Adoption
Welcoming a baby into the family is beautiful thing, but this also comes with a cost. "Child delivery in America is expensive in itself. Day to day things like diapers, clothing, or food can add up to thousands of dollars," says Gonzalez. "Plus, one of the parents has to stop working, at least temporarily, to care for the child. If the parent doesn't work for a company or state with good parental leave policies, that could translate into a drop in the family's income, affecting their financial well-being."
Job Changes or Termination
People become unemployed for many reasons, some of which may be out of their control. And health insurance is usually tied with employment, so losing a job means losing that insurance as well as other benefits. How do you prepare for this unforeseen change? "Having an emergency fund or some type of savings would definitely come in handy at this point, so you can get by until you find a new job," adds Gonzalez.
"Retiring can affect your finances in several ways, depending on how much you have saved for this period in your life. A lot of times, your pension could be significantly lower than what your income used to be," explains Gonzalez. "On top of this, you could be looking at higher costs with medical bills, or facing the risk of outliving your savings." Preparing for retirement as early as possible can help to mitigate these costs.
High temperatures, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and more can cause damage or even the loss of a home. We can only prepare so much for these disasters, and our first priority should be the safety of our families. Next, we need to know where to go for help, which could require help from the state or federal government or from nonprofit groups that provide aid. Gonzalez recommends knowing what your home insurance covers and what aid is available from the government. "In the event of a serious or prolonged illness, your finances will surely take a hit," she adds. "Having good healthcare coverage and sufficient money in savings will help you get through this difficult time."