Happy Mothers Day, Divas!! We know you’re superhuman to be able to juggle EVERYTHING, including becoming your family’s Chief Financial Organizer, so we applaud you for all your efforts. We ask you today to focus on all of your accomplishments and blessings– not the messy closet you haven’t had a moment to organize or the perennial garden waiting to be planted. Who CARES?! The love and support you give your children is really all that matters. And for those mama Divas out there who are single moms, please, please make sure you take extra time to focus on your personal finances because your children only have you to count on. Here are some simple things to do that will protect you and your children, and might even save you some money!
-Make sure your will is up to date, especially with respect to the person you have named as Guardian and Trustee. Believe it or not, the COURT will be left to decide the custody and guardianship of your child, as well as the division of your assets, if you don’t have a will. Now who wants that? We recommend that you don’t name the same person to be both guardian (the upbringing) and trustee (the money) because it can cause conflicts but if you can’t think of a second trusted friend or family member then it’s ok, just not preferable. (And if you are divorced then your ex may trump this anyway)
-Grab all the tax breaks you can get! Buckle your seat belt…here goes:
-Make sure you are filing Head of Household (and NOT single) if you qualify. Ask your CPA if you qualify but here’s a quick test:
1. If you are a US citizen and unmarried at the end of the year
2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home
3. The home was the principal residence for more than half the year for your qualifying child (or qualifying relative)
4. And DON”T worry if you can’t claim the child dependency exemption due to a divorce. That won’t automatically knock you out.
Any other tax benefits for supporting a qualifying child? YEP!
-Dependency Exemption: Make sure you have taken the time to get a social security number for your child or you won’t be able to claim the child for a very valuable tax exemption. Again, ask you CPA if you qualify. Remember “no tickie, no shirtie” Now it’s “No SSN, no tax benefit!”
-Child/dependent care credit: For working mom’s who need child care, don’t miss this opportunity to claim a valuable credit, not deduction! The child care must be for your child under the age 13. Wow….does the IRS think it’s safe to leave children home alone when we travel on business trips?? Get with the program!!
-Child Tax Credit
-Dependent care benefits exclusion
-Earned income credit
-Make sure you have enough life insurance, especially if your assets alone are inadequate to provide for your family if you die prematurely. What’s enough you ask? Enough to support your child through college years, even if they will be supported by the guardian, to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to with you including possibly having enough to pay off the mortgage so they could remain in their home if the guardian lives in small apartment; and college of course. If you have limited funds but are in great health now, you will be pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive term life insurance costs and likely to fit in your budget since you can pay it monthly in most cases. ALWAYS have it in trust and not paid outright to your minor child! Do this when you get your will done!
-Consider purchasing Long term disability insurance, especially if it is offered at work
-Leave written instructions regarding the location of EVERYTHING!! Your two-year old may know his alphabet but has no clue where you keep the keys to the fire-box!
-Make sure you have a “Rainy Day” fund
-Take care of YOURSELF! Your child is counting on you not to get sick by running yourself down. We all need fun so be on the lookout for DivaDocs which will be loaded with REWARDS for even little accomplishments. Who doesn’t need a pat on the back or a free something once in a while?