Financial planning is one thing that many Americans put off even during the good times. But when you're serving as a primary caregiver to other family members, it's often pushed even farther down your to-do list.
How can you plan for your own future while caring for the current needs of others? Here are five tips to succeed.
Reduce Expenses. Caregiving often reduces the amount of available income for those doing the work. If you can't work as much as you'd like, cutting expenses is key. Focus on what brings you the most enjoyment and benefit, and keep those items while discarding other things that offer less.
Work with Professionals. Financial planners are not just for rich people. A fee-based financial planner can help you honestly assess your financial situation and goals then come up with a workable plan for your future. Having someone on your side during this trying time helps you focus on yourself when needed.
Prioritize Savings. When helping out others, it's easy to forget to plan for yourself. And it's common to dip into your own future savings or fail to add to them. Avoid this temptation by prioritizing saving for your own needs, such as retirement or education. You will continue to have a life beyond caring for your loved one, and you have to work toward it now — even if only in small ways.
Manage Your Risk. There's risk involved in everything, and balancing that risk is key to meeting your goals. If you're feeling unstable about your current income, you may want to reduce risk in the stock market when you invest in retirement accounts. You also need sufficient insurance to protect your health, your life, and your belongings so you don't have to worry about unnecessary stresses. If, on the other hand, you can't put as much away toward goals, it may be beneficial to increase the risk in your portfolio in order to make up for the lack of contributions.
Seek Out Help. There are a number of grants and programs that can help reduce your load. Apply for anything and everything when it comes to things like income assistance, respite programs, and caregiving options. Any time or money you can carve out to care for yourself and your own needs — both financial and personal — will help you remember to focus on things aside from your loved one. You both will benefit from that.
Keeping an eye on your own financial needs and personal goals while caring for others is difficult. But it's important for you and your family members. Start today by meeting with a fee-based financial planning service who can become your partner for the future.