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Parents

31 Things Every Young Parent Should Be Doing With Their Money Right Now

If you're starting a family, these are the financial moves you should be making.

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1. If your employer offers a 401(k) match, say yes to free money!

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That's a guaranteed 100% return on investment. You won't find that anywhere else. Contribute at least enough to get the full match.

2. Automate your savings.

This is the only money-saving tip that's guaranteed to work. You can set up transactions that automatically move money from your checking account to your various savings accounts on the same day every single month. You'll be amazed how quickly your savings grow. (Click here to see how it's done.)
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This is the only money-saving tip that's guaranteed to work. You can set up transactions that automatically move money from your checking account to your various savings accounts on the same day every single month. You'll be amazed how quickly your savings grow. (Click here to see how it's done.)

3. Buy term life insurance.

Working parents need life insurance to replace their income. Stay-at-home parents need life insurance because the work they do (especially childcare) would cost money to replace. Buy enough term life insurance to cover you until your youngest child will be out of school. (Click here for more.)
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Working parents need life insurance to replace their income. Stay-at-home parents need life insurance because the work they do (especially childcare) would cost money to replace. Buy enough term life insurance to cover you until your youngest child will be out of school. (Click here for more.)

4. Avoid whole life insurance.

It's sold as a "can't miss" investment opportunity. It's really just a way for insurance salesmen to earn big commissions while you get lousy returns. (Click here for more.)
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It's sold as a "can't miss" investment opportunity. It's really just a way for insurance salesmen to earn big commissions while you get lousy returns. (Click here for more.)

5. Give yourself blow money.

No, not that kind of blow. This is money that each spouse gets each month to spend however they please, no questions asked. Gotta preserve a little independence!
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No, not that kind of blow. This is money that each spouse gets each month to spend however they please, no questions asked. Gotta preserve a little independence!

6. Use credit card rewards to travel for free.

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If you can use credit cards responsibly, the rewards can really add up quick. Using those points to score free travel is usually the way to get the most value out of them. (Click here for more.)

7. Avoid credit card debt.

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Any interest paid on those credit cards will wipe out any rewards you might have earned and leave you in a hole. Pay your bill in full every single month.

8. Start investing now, even if you stink.

You might not know how to invest, and that's okay. When you start out, the amount you contribute matters WAY more than the returns you earn. Even if you stink, you'll be better off for starting now.
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You might not know how to invest, and that's okay. When you start out, the amount you contribute matters WAY more than the returns you earn. Even if you stink, you'll be better off for starting now.

9. For long-term goals, invest heavily in the stock market.

The stock market can be scary. It goes up and down like a roller coaster. But over the long-term it's going to offer the highest returns and make it easier for you to reach your biggest goals. (Click here for more.)
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The stock market can be scary. It goes up and down like a roller coaster. But over the long-term it's going to offer the highest returns and make it easier for you to reach your biggest goals. (Click here for more.)

10. Keep investing simple by using index funds.

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Index funds allow you to beat 80% of professional investors with 1% of the effort. When it comes to investing, simplicity simply offers better results. (Click here for more.)

11. Don't worry when the stock market falls.

You're investing for the long-term. Temporary drops in the stock market just mean you get to buy on sale before it starts going back up. And it will go back up.
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You're investing for the long-term. Temporary drops in the stock market just mean you get to buy on sale before it starts going back up. And it will go back up.

12. Contribute to a Roth IRA.

This will turn into tax-free income down the road. Pretty sweet deal! (Click here for more.)
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This will turn into tax-free income down the road. Pretty sweet deal! (Click here for more.)

13. Get long-term disability insurance.

According to WebMD, your odds of becoming disabled for some period of time before you retire are about 1 in 3. Long-term disability insurance will provide you with an income even if your health prevents you from working. (Click here for more.)
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According to WebMD, your odds of becoming disabled for some period of time before you retire are about 1 in 3. Long-term disability insurance will provide you with an income even if your health prevents you from working. (Click here for more.)

14. Open a health savings account.

If you're eligible, these accounts are great! Contributions are tax-deductible, and you can withdraw the money tax-free for medical bills. They can even make for a pretty killer retirement account when used correctly. (Click here for more.)
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If you're eligible, these accounts are great! Contributions are tax-deductible, and you can withdraw the money tax-free for medical bills. They can even make for a pretty killer retirement account when used correctly. (Click here for more.)

15. Open a Coverdell ESA.

These are dedicated education savings accounts that have special tax benefits when used for college, or even for K-12 expenses. This is a great way to get a head start on Junior's college fund. (Click here for more.)
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These are dedicated education savings accounts that have special tax benefits when used for college, or even for K-12 expenses. This is a great way to get a head start on Junior's college fund. (Click here for more.)

16. Start a 529 plan.

If you want to save for your child's college education, this is often the best way to do it. Your state may offer a tax break for making contributions, but even if it doesn't, saving ahead with a 529 plan can make college a lot more affordable. (Click here for more.)
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If you want to save for your child's college education, this is often the best way to do it. Your state may offer a tax break for making contributions, but even if it doesn't, saving ahead with a 529 plan can make college a lot more affordable. (Click here for more.)

17. Make yourself indispensable at work.

Your biggest financial asset right now is likely your ability to earn money. Make yourself so valuable that people will be knocking down your door to pay you. (Click here for more.)
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Your biggest financial asset right now is likely your ability to earn money. Make yourself so valuable that people will be knocking down your door to pay you. (Click here for more.)

18. Start a side hustle.

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Consider doing something on the side to earn a little extra money, and maybe even pursue a passion that could eventually become a new career. If you need some inspiration, here are some creative side hustles real people have actually done.

19. Negotiate your cable bill.

Yes, your cable bill is definitely negotiable. Just call, tell them you want to cancel, and ask to be transferred to the "retention department." That's where you'll find the offers they don't advertise anywhere else. (Click here for more.)
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Yes, your cable bill is definitely negotiable. Just call, tell them you want to cancel, and ask to be transferred to the "retention department." That's where you'll find the offers they don't advertise anywhere else. (Click here for more.)

20. Pay down your highest-interest debt first.

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This is where you'll get the most bang for your buck. That high-interest debt is costing you the most, so getting rid of it first will save you the most. (Click here for more.)

21. Apply for income-driven student loan repayment plans.

If you qualify, these programs will lower your required monthly payment, which gives you more flexibility with your budget. You may even qualify for eventual forgiveness of some of your debt. The public service loan forgiveness plan is especially great.
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If you qualify, these programs will lower your required monthly payment, which gives you more flexibility with your budget. You may even qualify for eventual forgiveness of some of your debt. The public service loan forgiveness plan is especially great.

22. Use the library.

Kids love books. They also love to get new things. The library lets you give them new books all the time without spending a dime.
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Kids love books. They also love to get new things. The library lets you give them new books all the time without spending a dime.

23. Find a cheaper cell phone plan.

Did you know that you can get unlimited everything for just $25 per month? Check out some of the alternative cell phone providers like Republic Wireless and Ting and save big bucks.
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Did you know that you can get unlimited everything for just $25 per month? Check out some of the alternative cell phone providers like Republic Wireless and Ting and save big bucks.

24. Get wills in place.

A will lets you name the guardians for your children if you passed away, which is something you definitely want to be in control of. Otherwise that decision would be left to the state. (Click here for more.)
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A will lets you name the guardians for your children if you passed away, which is something you definitely want to be in control of. Otherwise that decision would be left to the state. (Click here for more.)

25. Talk money with your honey.

Nothing turns on a significant other like a little money talk! OK, so that's probably not true. But you're in this together, and setting a regular schedule for talking about your finances will make sure you stay on the same page. (Click here for more.)
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Nothing turns on a significant other like a little money talk! OK, so that's probably not true. But you're in this together, and setting a regular schedule for talking about your finances will make sure you stay on the same page. (Click here for more.)

26. Build an emergency fund.

Having some cash in savings will help you handle the unexpected expenses that come your way. $1,000 is a good initial goal, with 3-6 months' worth of savings a good long-term goal. (Click here for more.)
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Having some cash in savings will help you handle the unexpected expenses that come your way. $1,000 is a good initial goal, with 3-6 months' worth of savings a good long-term goal. (Click here for more.)

27. When you buy that minivan, use email to negotiate like a pro.

You can use email to negotiate with 40 dealers all at once without ever leaving the comfort of your home. It can be done in just a couple of days and save you thousands of dollars. (Click here to see how we did it.)
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You can use email to negotiate with 40 dealers all at once without ever leaving the comfort of your home. It can be done in just a couple of days and save you thousands of dollars. (Click here to see how we did it.)

28. Make irregular expenses regular.

Things like car repairs, home maintenance and travel are regular enough to expect them, but not regular enough to fit neatly into a monthly budget. You can prep for them ahead of time by estimating your annual spending on each, dividing that number by 12, and automating that amount into a savings account each month. (Click here for more.)
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Things like car repairs, home maintenance and travel are regular enough to expect them, but not regular enough to fit neatly into a monthly budget. You can prep for them ahead of time by estimating your annual spending on each, dividing that number by 12, and automating that amount into a savings account each month. (Click here for more.)

29. Double-check your health insurance options.

Take the time to look over all of your health insurance options and choose the one that works best for your specific situation. Don't be afraid to choose a plan with a higher deductible if you can save on premiums and your family is relatively healthy. (Click here for more.)
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Take the time to look over all of your health insurance options and choose the one that works best for your specific situation. Don't be afraid to choose a plan with a higher deductible if you can save on premiums and your family is relatively healthy. (Click here for more.)

30. Up your liability insurance.

Liability coverage is part of both your auto policy and your homeowners policy, and you can even get an umbrella policy for a little extra protection. This insurance will protect you financially in case you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, which is especially likely when you're driving. (Click here for more.)
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Liability coverage is part of both your auto policy and your homeowners policy, and you can even get an umbrella policy for a little extra protection. This insurance will protect you financially in case you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, which is especially likely when you're driving. (Click here for more.)

31. Don't assume you should buy a house.

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Buying a house is not necessarily a sign that you've "made it." In a lot cases, renting actually makes more financial sense. This buy vs. rent calculator from the New York Times can help you run the numbers yourself, and this flowchart will also help your decision.

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