This article is written by Jackie Waters with a US-based perspective. All content provided is for informational purposes only. Check with a financial adviser in your area before making financial investments suggested in this article.
Every parent wants to provide the best possible future for their child. Part of that comes from being a loving, compassionate, caring, and supportive parent. Part of it comes from teaching your child to be the best possible human that he or she can be. Finally, part of parenting is providing a financially secure and stable future for your child.
Taking steps to pay down your debts and save up for the future will help you (and your child) in the long term.
However, while most parents are worried about saving up for college, as a parent of a child with special needs, your concerns go a step further. Who will pay your child’s expenses once he becomes an adult? Who will care for him when you are gone?
Here are some important things to take into consideration as you start saving.
When you’re still young, retirement can feel so far away. You have decades to go before you can retire. Why worry about it now? When you proactively plan for retirement, you’re doing a huge favor for your child by planning ahead.
As a parent of a child with special needs, it is imperative that you set up a special needs trust. Due to their disability, your child will qualify for benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but leaving money or property to them could disqualify them. By setting up a special needs trust, you can save for your child’s future while ensuring they get the benefits they are entitled to. A trustee that you appoint will oversee the funds, and spend money on your child’s behalf. As you save for retirement, put a little bit in the trust too–you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up.
Stay-at-home parent? You can still save money!
Being a stay-at-home parent to a child with special needs doesn’t automatically make you exempt from helping save for your child’s future. Together with your spouse/partner, you can open a fund to help save for the future. Ideas include a college savings fund for your child’s education, a deductible IRA that both parents open together, or even a nondeductible Roth IRA to help pay for your retirement.
However, make sure you don’t put anything in your child’s name. When set-up correctly, it is an excellent tool to fund your special needs trust. Try to scrape together even just a few thousand dollars per year that you can start placing into the IRA and/or college fund. Only have a few hundred dollars to spare? Every little bit adds up!
Prepare for the unexpected
Financial experts agree that life insurance for your children is almost always a waste of time and money. Life insurance for yourself, as the parent, on the other hand, is a must-have. Losing a parent is indescribably difficult, and this will be one less thing your child will have to stress about during his or her time of grief.
While it is difficult to think about leaving your child alone due to an untimely death, it is something that needs to be taken seriously. For this reason, you need to name a guardian who will care for your child. The person you choose needs to be familiar with your child’s needs and can handle such a large commitment. Reiterate to them that this commitment will likely continue even after your child turns 18.
It may take crunching some numbers and count some pennies for a while, but each of the items on this list is important to consider. Now is the time to start saving up and planning. By doing so, you’ll be slowly yet surely building a financially stable life for your child with special needs. You’ll eventually be able to give them a safety net that many children don’t have. You’ll rest easy at night knowing that you’ve done all you can do to provide them with these opportunities and take a little stress off their future years.
Related articles on this site
- Planning for the Future: College Scholarships for Students with Disabilities
- Preparing for Higher Education: A Guide for Students with Disabilities
About the Writer
Ms. Waters is a mother of four boys and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same on her site Hyper-Tidy.com.