Having a baby has given you a new perspective on life — including your finances. Suddenly, you’re not just worried about making it until the next paycheck. Instead, you’re thinking about things like how you can set your child up for the brightest future possible and how to care for your family if something happens to you.

Revisiting your financial plan during major life changes is always a smart move, and there’s no doubt that starting a family is a big change. Instead of just worrying about your finances, take these actions to set your family’s future up for success.

 

For all your insurance needs, contact Rhoads Insurance. Visit our site for quotes!

 

Enroll Your Baby in Health Insurance

Signing your child up for health insurance is one of the first financial matters to take care of after having a baby. Depending on your insurance provider, you’ll have 30 to 60 days to enroll your child in health coverage. You can enroll your child in an existing policy, change policies, or enroll in CHIP or Medicaid if you qualify.

 

Buy a Life Insurance Policy

Health insurance isn’t the only policy you need. Life insurance becomes important after you have kids because most couples couldn’t cover the costs of living including childcare on a single income. Life insurance keeps your family afloat if the worst happens, and buying it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can compare quotes online before talking with an agent, and if you want, you can even get a policy that skips the medical exam; neither simplified issue nor guaranteed issue life insurance policies require medical exams. However, if you’re in good health, you’ll probably save money with a medically underwritten policy.

 

Update Your Beneficiaries

As you get life insurance in order, think about the other accounts and policies you have. Have you updated beneficiaries since starting a family, or do you still have exes or your parents named on accounts? Update retirement accounts, insurance policies, and wills so they name your spouse or a trust as the beneficiary.

 

Upsize Your Emergency Fund

Insurance protects against big emergencies, but what about the little mishaps that throw a wrench in your finances? Whether it’s a broken-down car or a sick child keeping you out of work, it’s important to have a financial cushion for weathering all of life’s little emergencies. If you normally keep a three-month emergency fund, bump it up to six months now that you have a family. And if you don’t have an emergency fund at all, now is the time to start one!

 

Start an Educational Savings Account

It may feel strange thinking about college when your child is still a newborn, but it’s never too soon to start saving for your child’s future. Plus, education savings accounts aren’t only for college expenses. Depending on the type of account, you can use your savings for education expenses spanning from elementary school through college.

 

Make Sure Your Business Stays in Order

New parents who also run a business need to make sure they keep a close eye on operations, as time marches on regardless. For example, if you haven’t yet registered your business as an LLC, take some time to do so, as this will help protect your personal finances from your business’s finances in the event that something goes wrong. You can simplify the registration process by using a formation service like Zenbusiness.

It’s also very important to make those quarterly tax payments on time; this can help you avoid trouble come tax time, as the last thing you want is to stare down a larger-than-expected tax bill. Last but not least, devote some time every day to your business’s finances, which will help keep you abreast of what’s happening and what needs to be addressed.

 

Bonus: Plan for Charitable Giving

It’s not in the budget for every family, but if it is for yours, consider making charitable giving part of your family’s financial plan. Charitable giving is a wonderful way to help less privileged families and sets a great example for your children as well. Whether you give money or give time, your contributions make a big impact on the missions you serve.

It takes more than money to raise great kids, but that doesn’t mean finances aren’t important when starting a family. The steps you take today will impact your family’s financial well-being for years to come, so make sure you’re putting financial security at the top of your to-do list. When you make these financial moves a priority, you create a bright future for your growing family.

 

Image via Unsplash

The first year of marriage is a time of bonding, getting on the same page, and discovering one another. It’s also a great time to start making baby steps toward planning your future. There is no better time to address financial health and establish a plan than in that first year, as newlyweds. If you make plans and changes early in your marriage, you will be grateful down the road. Here are some questions for you and your spouse to consider as you grow together.

 

Have You Combined Your Insurance?

As newlyweds, there are a lot of little things that need to be done, like getting a marriage license, changing your last name, sharing budgets, combining finances and switching bills. To add to the list, it’s important to switch over insurance as well — Rhoads Insurance Agency can help you explore your options. When it comes to auto insurance, you may find that you will get better auto rates with a multiple driver/car policy. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to purchase an umbrella policy to ensure that you and your spouse have adequate coverage.

Early in your newlyweds stage, you jointly should also make a decision on whether you want to go on the same health insurance policy or stay on different plans. If your employers offer you health benefits, it might be wise to take advantage of their investment in your plan. If you have a goal of starting a family down the road, then it’s a good time to look into short-term disability insurance, which can help offset time off for any unpaid maternity leave.

 

Is Home Buying in the Future?

Whether you want to buy a home immediately or down the road, there’s no time like the present to begin preparing. Setting the mutual goal early on in your marriage will give you both something to work towards and create a unified front in making it a reality. As soon as you get back from your honeymoon, it’s time to begin saving with the goal in mind of no longer paying rent, but rather having that rent payment go toward a mortgage and ownership in a home.

To get an idea of what home buying would look like and make the appropriate preparations, start researching mortgages as soon as possible. This research will show you various loan types, what your credit will need to look like, what your down payment should be, and potential interest rates you will be working with. You’ll discover things like how conventional mortgages will give you better interest rates — check PennyMac current rates to help you decide if a conventional loan is the best option for you. If you don’t have great credit or you don’t have a substantial down payment, then perhaps an FHA loan would work better.

 

Do You have a Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario?

The basic estate plan consists of four basic documents:

  1. Last Will and Testament
  2. Durable Power of Attorney
  3. Medical Power of Attorney
  4. Advanced Directives for a Natural Death

If you had these four documents created before you got married, it’s time to update them to factor in your spouse. If neither of you has these documents, then you should invest in professional attorney fees to have them drawn up.

This basic estate plan will do the following:

  • Ensure your assets go where you want at your death (each state has different laws if you die without a will, so don’t bank on the fact it will all go to your spouse).
  • Enable your spouse to make all the financial decisions in your stead in the event that you are unable to do so.
  • Assign an agent to make medical decisions if you are prevented from doing so.
  • Direct your medical team on your end-of-life choices (i.e., Do you want life support?)

Making financial decisions and plans early on as newlyweds will help establish a strong foundation in your marriage. Take the time to do the tedious housekeeping stuff now so that you don’t have to worry later on down the road. Make it a priority to work as a team in all aspects of your life; you will be grateful later that you put in the work.

 

Contact Rhoads Insurance Agency (484-509-1784) to go over your insurance options and get assistance with retirement planning and college funding.

What Insurance Is

What I’ve seen over and over is that most consumers don’t actually understand what Insurance is. They think you do it to get something. And that’s not completely true. You purchase Insurance in order to transfer risk.

Health Insurance, in particular, is confusing. Because there, you also want a program for non-emergency expenses. In order to (also) cover the risk on those more expected expenses, in addition to catastrophic losses, Health Insurance companies use Cost-Sharing mechanisms, like deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

Listen to my on the Struggling To Success Podcast for more!

One of the things that the Rhoads Agency is best at is helping people to qualify for federal money (that tax credit subsidy). When you’re buying health insurance, that difference is dramatic.

How much subsidy you qualify for is derived from the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) chart. To qualify for a subsidy, your household’s income must be at least 100% or above the FPL, but not above 400% FPL. The two biggest factors for calculating where you fall on the FPL are your income, and your household size. Listen to Dan’s new podcast, Struggling to Success, here:

Financial planning for parents is essential at every level. If you want to ensure that you have things under control, Rhoads Insurance Agency advises that you take a look at your current situation and see what needs to be changed. This way, you’ll develop the financial security for which your future self will be thankful.

 

Make Sure Your Budget is Accurate

If you’re like some people, you may have a general monthly budget that you keep in your head or scribbled in a book somewhere. That’s a good start, but that’s not enough to maintain good financial footing.

According to Payoff, a successful budget starts with knowing your expenses down to the last cent. This should include not only recurring monthly payments but also sporadic ones, like car insurance payments and registration fees. Make sure you account for your savings and debt payoffs as well. It can be difficult to get everything to come together on paper if you have a lot of information to juggle. In that case, consider using top-notch budgeting software that will bring everything together for you. Some programs even offer tracking features so you can see how much you’re saving or how much of your debt you’ve repaid.

 

Plan for Emergencies

When you’re dealing with financial planning, you can’t neglect your emergency fund. Traditionally, it’s advised that you have between three and six times your monthly income set aside for emergencies. Since that may seem overwhelming at first, Better Money Habits suggests tackling manageable saving tasks instead of focusing on the grand total. Even if it’s a small amount, it’s important to start saving and it’s recommended that you use automatic transfers so you have no excuses.

If you’re looking for ways to save so you can build your cushion faster, consider using discounts when you’re shopping. It can also be helpful to buy things second-hand as long as it’s safe to do that, and focus on reusing items whenever you can. You can also look into getting a life insurance plan that has cash value accumulation, which can be used in emergencies and to help pay for your child’s college education.

 

Plan for the Future

As you’re putting your financial plan into action, make sure you’re thinking about your future as well. This is where estate planning comes into play. When you have a plan in place, it will ensure that your assets are handled as you wish and any children under 18 have an appointed guardian.

Another must-have is life insurance, as the funds from the policy will cover expenses generated by your passing or if you’re incapacitated. Term life insurance, in particular, can be very helpful as it guarantees a set death benefit after a certain amount of time. The good thing about these policies is that they tend to be fairly inexpensive, especially for those in good health. The funds from a term life policy can be used to cover things like unpaid bills, lost income, and funeral expenses. You may also consider looking into life insurance with living benefits, which means that you would receive the death benefit before your passing if you become chronically or critically ill.

 

Re-Invest In Your Future by Heading Back to School

Although the idea of going back to school might be scary, there are numerous benefits to seeking out higher education to establish a better future for your family. For example, an MBA can be an extremely useful tool to help you achieve that sort of stability that we all crave. Not only can you increase your earning potential with an MBA but you can also gain invaluable experience that will serve you throughout your life. This expanded skill set will have a direct impact on leadership ability and business knowledge that can lead to an increase in overall career prospects. Regardless of what degree you choose, know that there are numerous ways to advance your career through online programs that cater to working professionals.

 

Balance College and Retirement Savings

Everyone wonders if they have enough money saved for retirement, and as a parent, you also have to think about the cost of a college education. Based on recent estimates, a public college education can cost as much as $230,176 in 2035. It’s tough to definitively say what your retirement needs will be when you get to that age, but a cost of living calculator can give you an idea.

This means you need to find a way to balance saving for your kid’s college at the same time as your retirement. Depending on your personal circumstances, you can choose to stagger your savings or save for each at the same time. Whichever route you choose, make sure you do your research so you’ll end up with a strategy that works for you.

Financial planning for parents can be equally important and challenging. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. If you have an accurate budget and a detailed plan for the future, your ideal financial future will be within your grasp.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

When it comes to exploring your insurance and college funding options, turn to expert Dan Rhoads at Rhoads Insurance Agency. Reach out today for assistance.

That’s right, I felt that it was time to start doing a quarterly agency newsletter to stay abreast of changes going on with how I do business. And it being the end of the year, annual enrollment periods are upon us for making changes to health insurance and Medicare.

 

The Direction of RhoadsLife

Since going independent in 2018, I had a vision of serving clients as a one-stop-shop for all kinds of insurance and financial services. And I’ve come along way as an agent down that path. Most notably, I added homeowners and auto insurance to my portfolio in February, and college funding and financial aid in March. And currently, I am embarking on becoming securities-licensed, which will allow me to provide clients with Mutual Funds, IRA’s, 529 college plans, and variable annuities, as well as the fixed index financial products that are already available through my agency.

The majority of my clients find me when seeking out health and dental insurance. That isn’t changing. What is changing is where I can help clients from there. And that direction is towards supporting individuals and families who are seeking to build financially and/or protect their assets.

Check back in early January for developments…

 

Pressing Questions & Other Matters

Q: What is happening to Obamacare?

The Affordable Care Act does have its vocal critics, and over the last 4 years there have been reports that ACA plans are under attack. That may be, but I want to reassure those who depend upon their ACA plans to cover their pre-existing conditions or maternity care, that those protections will not be yanked away from them in an instant, no matter what happens politically. If you are one of the many Americans who depend on those protections, please do not panic: your ACA plans will be just fine through 2021 and the foreseeable future.

Q: What about those who want private insurance?

I can help out with that, too. More affordable private insurance is available for those who need it in the form of Short-Term Medical (STM) plans. STM’s serve their purpose well. The caveat is still the fact that these plans are not guaranteed renewable every year. So I recommend to those that want private insurance to talk to me about guaranteed renewable supplemental insurance that can be combined with a STM plan.

Q: Can you get Medicare plans with RhoadsLife?

Yes. Please submit a request for information on my MEDICARE page. Be prepared with your primary care physician’s name, your preferred pharmacy location, and a list of prescriptions you take including drug name, formulation, dosage, and frequency of use. I can compare all of the Medicare plans out there to offer you the best for your needs.

On a few occasions, I’ve sought to help families try to manage the cost of senior care for elderly loved ones. It’s a big challenge because on the one hand senior care is very expensive. But on the other hand, families really want to do their best for their elderly parents or grandparents.

This is true for assisted living, in-home long-term care, and nursing homes.

The best solution is to buy a long-term care insurance or life insurance plan. But most seniors dismiss the idea of getting such coverage until they actually need it. What are the other options?

Caring.com has an informative article that explains a lot of what I would say about Assisted Living Costs and Ways to Pay.

The cost of assisted living can seem overwhelming at first glance. However, compared to the average cost of a nursing home ($5,000 to $10,000 per month) or in-home care (about $4,000 per month for 40 hours of care per week), it is often one of the more affordable and convenient options if your loved one doesn’t need close medical supervision.

Read on to learn more about the cost of assisted living and important steps you can take to make this type of care more affordable.

When you receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, many questions and concerns come to mind, not the least of which is covering the cost of care. However, now is a time to prioritize other things, like self-care, family, and friends. To make it easier to focus on those more important aspects of life, here’s what you need to know about your finances so you can spend time tending to yourself and less time worried about costs.

 

Get the Bigger Financial Picture

Care for Alzheimer’s isn’t cheap. In fact, NextAvenue indicates care costs most families in the neighborhood of $60,000 per year. If you should move to assisted living, you could expect to pay around $55,000 annually, while a year in a nursing home would cost $82,000 or more. 

Unfortunately, while Traditional Medicare will help with things like hospital stays, Medicare won’t pick up the tab for the type of daily care most people require, like help with dressing, grooming, and taking medications. You could hire unskilled in-home assistance for around $21 per hour, which obviously could add up fast. While these are daunting figures, don’t get discouraged—you do have options. 

 

Dip Into Insurances

If you have an existing long-term care insurance policy, that can help with the cost of daily care, but if you are older or have a pre-existing condition (like Alzheimer’s or dementia), you won’t be able to apply and qualify for coverage through a brand new policy. U.S.News notes you might be able to use HSA funds for long-term care, depending on the circumstances, but that can be tricky as those funds can only be applied to qualifying expenses.

Families are typically burdened with covering care as well as expenses both during and after your passing, which adds to the stress for everyone involved. The last thing you want is to leave behind a legacy of economic strife. While it’s wise to invest in insurance plans like burial insurance to help with the financial obligations you leave behind, like your funeral, medical expenses, and other debts, with expenses like that, it’s clear a more extensive financial plan is necessary. 

 

Adjust Your Insurance Coverage

Even though Medicare won’t pay for daily Alzheimer’s assistance, Medicare Advantage plans are improving coverage for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases. Non-medical in-home care, home modifications, adult daycare, and assisted living are all on the Medicare Advantage radar, so if you don’t currently have coverage, explore your options. Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 and ends December 7 every year, and you can change plans without penalty during this time.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t currently require assistance, your needs are likely to change over time. An adjustment in coverage now ensures you’re ready for the coming year, come what may. 

 

Think Outside the Box

The natural inclination is to look to insurance first for help with health-related expenses, but there are other ways you can pay for your care as well. For instance, veterans are eligible for assistance through the VA and other military-oriented organizations. Similarly, Daily Caring points out that there are a number of programs that help with home accessibility modifications. You and your loved ones might also be able to qualify for grants designed specifically for those coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

You also might have other untapped resources. For instance, homeowners can consider a reverse mortgage to help cover their care costs. Bear in mind these mortgages are best for those who do not have anyone else residing at the home because of how the loans are structured. Just like it sounds, lenders pay borrowers for the property and the debt increases over time. The loan is settled when the borrower moves out, sells the property, or passes away. While not perfect for everyone, in some circumstances, it’s an ideal solution.

While there are no simple fixes for covering the costs of Alzheimer’s, thankfully, there are several avenues to explore. Look into various insurance policies and get familiar with your other options. Once you have a financial plan configured, you can set that concern aside and focus on the more important things in life—like your loved ones and yourself.

 

Guest post by Karen Weeks: Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. 

Photo by JORGE LOPEZ on Unsplash

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, so it’s a great time to have a conversation with me about your health insurance. Did you know that cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of medical bankruptcy due to inadequate health insurance (reference)?

Help protect yourself and your family by contacting me about health insurance and critical illness insurance, so you’re covered.

Speak with your doctor about signs that lead to early detection, recognizing the symptoms, and getting regular screenings.

And, be heart healthy!

When you become eligible for Medicare, you’ll have to make some very important decisions. Taking the time to shop around for plans can save you a lot of money on prescription drugs and other healthcare expenses. However, it’s easy to get caught up in complicated terms, misconceptions, and marketing material. If all the complexities of Medicare have you scratching your head, don’t worry! Here are some quick tips to help you make the right choice.

 

Learn About Your Options

People signing up for Medicare have two basic options for coverage: Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. If you go with Original Medicare, you can add prescription drug coverage and/or supplement with a Medigap plan to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. Alternatively, most Medicare Advantage plans include dental, vision, and hearing coverage and offer services not covered by Original Medicare.

There are several online resources that can help you understand Medicare a little better. For example, it’s a good idea to look for information on the sign-up process before enrolling, especially if you’re not very tech-savvy. Medicare.org details everything you need to know about signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan. As you navigate the maze of Medicare, use resources like these if you ever need help.

 

Be Aware of Medicare Myths

One of the most common myths surrounding Medicare is that the program is free. Original Medicare, the federal government program, is broken into Part A and Part B. It’s true that Part A is free for most Americans, but Part B requires a monthly premium. On top of this, you will face costs for deductibles and copayments with Original Medicare.

Many people also think that Medicare covers all areas of healthcare. While Original Medicare does cover many expenses, which you can read about here, it does not cover everything. For example, Medicare does not pay for hearing, dental, or vision care. You will also have to pay for an additional plan — called Medicare Part D — if you want prescription drug coverage.

 

 Make a List of Your Healthcare Criteria

Many seniors choose to supplement Medicare with a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan. Read this for help understanding the difference between the two. Original Medicare with a supplementary Medigap plan may give you more flexibility regarding which healthcare providers you can visit. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage plans usually include a wider range of benefits. Many Medicare Advantage plans cover preventive services and wellness programs. According to Forbes, this may encourage seniors to follow a healthier lifestyle.

Compare Medicare plans against a list of your personal criteria for help picking out a plan that’s well-suited to your needs. Note any specialists you visit, such as chiropractors, physical therapists, or acupuncturists. If you have preferred local doctors, pharmacists, or hospitals, include these on your list as well. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about any upcoming medical needs that you may need to have covered in the future. Also, you can use this guide from Kiplinger to find a Medicare drug plan that will cover your medications and dosages. As you’re comparing plans, don’t forget to look at the premiums and co-payments associated with each. Plans with lower premiums usually require higher co-payments and vice versa.

 

Be Cautious to Avoid Scams

As you shop around for coverage, be alert to common Medicare scams. In general, an unsolicited caller claiming to be an “official Medicare agent” is likely a scammer. These people may threaten seniors with penalties or offer deals to sign up for their special plan. Remember, the government will never call you about your healthcare coverage! While there are many reputable, licensed insurance agents selling Medicare plans, they cannot contact you in any way without your permission — this includes cold calling, leaving flyers, and visiting your home.

Choosing the right Medicare plan will lay the groundwork for your future health. Shop around, compare plans, and make an educated decision. A great plan that meets your personal criteria and covers valuable services will help you prevent health problems and maintain your general wellness as you embark into retirement.

 

Guest post by Karen Weeks: Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. 

Photo via Unsplash