The Financial Impact of Life’s Big Decisions
Life is a series of choices. Some of them seem like no big deal on the surface, but they can have a huge impact on your life – and your finances – down the road. Don’t make the mistake of making big decisions on “autopilot” – doing things just because it’s what is expected, instead of asking tough questions and determining what will and won’t work for your life.
Going to College. If you’re headed off to college, you need to have a plan or it could be a very expensive mistake. If you aren’t sure what you want to study, it might be a good idea to take a year off, work for a while and figure out a career you’d enjoy for the long-term. Before you decide on college, ask yourself:
- Can you afford it?
- Will a degree help your career?
- Do you need to stay close to home or can you afford to go to a school that specializes in the area you want to study?
College can be one of the most important experiences in your life, but before you make the financial commitment, make sure you have a plan and you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Raising a Family. While having a baby can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, it also ranks highly as one of the most stressful ones – not to mention expensive. Think about this: the average cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is about a quarter of a million dollars. Of course, you can spend much more or less on your offspring, depending on the choices you make. Are you prepared for the emotional and financial commitment of raising a family? Of course the experience is priceless, but make sure you understand what it takes to raise a family and give your kids the things you may want to be able to provide – like their first car and a college education. You can also go a different route and insist that your kids work and earn their own money for cars and college. Whatever choice you make, stick with your values and commit to a solid financial plan that can grow and evolve along with your family.
Buying a Home. Buying a home is often one of your first big decisions – and it’s typically one of life’s biggest purchases. Be prepared to do your homework so that you buy a home that is right for your lifestyle and your budget. Some things to consider:
- Get pre-qualified so that you understand your budget before you shop for a home.
- Know your timeline. This will determine the type of mortgage you should get – or whether you should rent instead of purchase.
- Check out the neighborhood and make sure you will be comfortable with the traffic, schools and, of course, the neighbors.
Before you commit to a purchase, understand all of the costs of home ownership – including insurance, property taxes, maintenance, HOA fees and other expenses.
If you’ve come to a fork in the road and need help making financial decisions, talk to a Uwharrie banker.