Financial Planning for Babies

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You may have noticed that there have been no updates on here for over a month. Apologies for that – our first son was born in early May and we are just getting into the swing of things!

As some of you will know, having a new born baby is very exciting, but also exhausting. Going from a solid 8 hours of sleep a night to waking up every 3 hours is a shock to the system. However, after a couple of months the little one starts sleeping longer and the brain starts to return to something approaching normal functionality. That’s when you may start thinking, “So what do we need to prepare financially now we have a new baby?”

Before I get into the financial planning stuff, I found an excellent blog: 2020 Mum in Tokyo – the “baby admin” section here is really helpful when it comes to working out what paperwork needs to be done to register your baby’s birth in Japan and overseas. It’s particularly useful if one or both of the parents is British.

So what kind of financial review should you conduct after a new addition to the family? Keeping it simple, I would look at two things: Insurance and Savings.

Insurance

Assuming you have already covered the basics and have an emergency cash reserve, basic medical cover, and income protection insurance in case you are sick or injured long term, the main thing to address after the birth of a child is life insurance. You may not have thought about it this way, but life insurance is really about replacement of income – if you were no longer around, what income would your family need to have the lifestyle you want them to have and be able to do the things you want them to do?

It’s also important to cover any liabilities. Do you have any debt that you would want to have paid off if something happened to you? If you have a loan on a property in Japan in your name, you will almost certainly have adequate life cover to dispense of this loan in the case of your death. If the loan is in your spouse’s name only, you may need additional cover. If you have loans on property overseas you need to check if they are covered. Do you have any other liabilities? Make sure you get an accurate total.

On to income – what income would your family need monthly if you were no longer there to provide it? If both parents work, keep in mind that if one of you is no longer around, the surviving parent will need to take care of the kids and may not be able to earn at the same level they do now. Do you want your child / children to go to university? What would that cost per year? Many Japanese life insurance policies can be set up to pay out an income rather than a lump sum – you may find something like this easier to plan with. (talk to an insurance professional to make sure you understand the options)

If you are looking at a lump sum payout, here’s how to calculate what you need:

If annual required income is $50,000, for example – at an interest rate of 5% per year you need $1,000,000 in order to generate the income without spending the capital. If you calculate at 2.5% you need to double that. If you are assuming zero interest rates, a million dollars will last 20 years. It’s up to you how conservative you want to be.

So if you need $1,000,000 to cover the income and you have uninsured loans of $280,000 (for example) you need $1,280,000. If you are adding in 4 years of university at $25,000 per year, then you need $1,380,000 in life insurance cover.

Obviously if you have significant assets already that could cover some of these costs, you can reduce the amount of life cover accordingly.

Savings

A new baby can be a great motivator for saving money! What is interesting is that I often find that people are less willing to take risk on money they save for their kids. They take it so seriously that losing money is not an option and they become overly conservative. While I understand why someone would feel this way, it’s a little counterintuitive. The time when kids really start to cost money is when they go to college / university, and that’s still 18 years away. Saving money in cash for that time frame means you will barely keep up with inflation. Also, the dollar cost averaging effect of regular saving means you can afford to take some risk in the early years.

It’s a good idea to start with a target in mind, so do some research on what school costs today. Don’t forget to factor in that higher education costs are rising faster than inflation year on year. This article may help get you started.

Once you have a target in mind, work backwards to how much you need to save each month. Use a simple online savings calculator to help figure it out. Here’s a simple one you can try.

In terms of investment vehicles, look at tax advantaged investments first. Japan’s Junior Nisa is a good example, allowing parents / grandparents / guardians to make contributions on behalf of children under 20 up to ¥800,000 per year. (the UK has a Junior ISA, while the US have 529 College Savings Plans)

Lastly, you may find you are entitled to reimbursement of medical costs related to the birth / child benefit in Japan. This can be a good way to kick off a savings account for your new family member!

Disclaimer: This should go without saying, but the information contained in this blog is not investment advice, or an incentive to invest, and should not be considered as such. This is for information only.