When thinking about finances, most people look first at their own personal income, expenses, debts and assets. Next, you probably take into account the financial status of other members of your household, including your spouse, partner and any children. And don’t forget about pets, which are always an expense but rarely generate any household income.
But as you plan for your financial future – individually, as a couple or as a family – you should also look beyond your immediate household. You might have a rich uncle in New York or Chicago who can help make those dreams come true. On the other hand, you might be sending a regular remittance to your abuela in Central America that needs to be subtracted from your take-home income.
In South Florida’s highly mobile and diverse community, many residents have extended family members who play important roles in their lives. That includes any “adopted” members of your family, such as a nanny, housekeeper or a close friend who has recently arrived from another country.
When looking at your short- and long-term financial goals, you should consider how your extended family could make life easier or more complicated. Also, family dynamics or emotional issues can complicate discussions about money. You might not want to ask your rich uncle for a gift, if it comes with strings attached.
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In any case, there are many financial issues in life that involve your extended family. Here are some of the potential opportunities and challenges to keep in mind as you make your financial plans.
• A child’s college education. If you are finding it hard to set aside enough money away to cover those future expenses, a relative might be willing to help fund tuition and fees for a niece, nephew or grandchild. Making contributions to a Florida 529 saving plan can also provide tax advantages for the giver, making it more attractive to your family member.
• Buying a home. A family member may be willing to give you funds that can be used as a down payment on a home. Generally, those gifts should be made well in advance of the actual purchase and should be disclosed to the lender. Another possibility is to see if a relative with available funds would be willing to hold a mortgage on the home. If you have credit issues, for instance, a mortgage from a family member might be a way to finance your purchase.
• Investing. If you have started a saving and investing program, there may be opportunities to consider beyond the traditional stock and bond markets. For example, you might want to diversify your portfolio by purchasing a real estate property that generates a steady flow of income. But if the price tag is too high, you could team up with your relatives to make the purchase through a partnership or other ownership structure. Think of this approach as crowdfunding with family orientation.
• Travel. If you make regular trips to visit a parent, child or grandchild outside South Florida, you should factor those travel expenses into your annual budget.
• Elder care. Many South Floridians have aging parents or grandparents here or in other geographic locations. If they require home health care or need to move to an assisted residential setting, you may be called upon to contribute to their expenses. Even if they are in good health today, there is always a risk of high medical expenses at some point in the future. It’s better to start preparing now than to be faced with a costly financial surprise.
• Insurance. Depending on the nature of your employment, you may be able to provide some type of insurance coverage to members of your extended family, as well as your immediate household. That may not be an option for your health care and disability policies, which are generally limited to a spouse and children. However, you may be able to obtain life insurance coverage and name a relative, nanny, housekeeper or friend as beneficiary. Purchasing a term insurance policy, for instance, can be an inexpensive way to provide a certain degree of financial protection for your loved ones.
These are some of the ways that your extended family can impact your household budget and long-term financial goals. Keep them in mind as you plan for the future!
Andrew Menachem, CIMA®, is a Wealth Adviser at The Menachem Group at Morgan Stanley in Aventura. Views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Morgan Stanley, and are not a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. Follow Menachem on Twitter @AMenachemMS.