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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Survey: Moms focus more on finances



money.jpgWe've seen those tear-inducing commercials about how having a baby changes everything. But a new nationwide survey found a much more practical change: Moms take a much greater role in family finances.

A survey issued by Citibank’s Women & Co. reveals that money is top of mind for U.S. mothers, following only parenting as the top topics that they think about daily. In fact, among their myriad of parenting responsibilities, 6 in 10 moms are making most of the day-to-day money decisions in the family and another 3 in 10 share decisions equally with their spouse.

The study, conducted by BabyCenter, also finds that after having children, moms’ role grew across all financial responsibilities, notably:  deciding on new financial products/accounts for the family (18 percentage point increase post-baby), budgeting (16 percentage points), spending (15 percentage points), managing savings (15 percentage points) and long-term financial planning (13 percentage points).

Having a baby prompted moms to spend less on themselves (72 percent); use deals, coupons and offers more often (68 percent); reconsider spending (64 percent); talk more about money with spouse/partner (49 percent); and save more for the future (43 percent).  Also, their top financial priorities post-baby shifted from paying down debt and planning for retirement to lowering expenses and saving for college.  Savings remained a top priority before and after baby.

In response to these no-duh findings, Women & Co. offered these tips on saving more, spending less, and planning for the future:

Take a snapshot. Saving requires you to analyze, plan, organize and evaluate. But first, you should know the current state of your finances. Understand what you have and what you spend.

Set short and long-term goals.
View your savings needs as long-term (e.g., retirement and college savings) and short-term (e.g., home repairs) so you can better decide how to allocate your money. Define where you want your family to be in 1 year, 5 years, and even 20 years so you can align your savings with your goals.

Make a "savings sacrifice." Track your expenses for an entire month, then evaluate where your money is going. Recalibrate what you've come to view as a "must-have" versus a "nice-to-have."

Save something every month and build an "emergency" fund. Automatically put a set amount — no amount is too small — of every paycheck in your savings account. Aim to accumulate enough cash to cover 6 months of living expenses at a minimum, and set that aside for a bona fide household emergency. If you already have an "emergency" fund, it can't hurt to keep adding to it, especially during a time of economic uncertainty.

Start saving for college early.
Having your child put his/her birthday money into a college savings plan may seem like a drop in the bucket when you look at the average cost of college, but over a long time horizon, it can make a difference. Consider making regular contributions (event if they are small) to a college savings vehicle, as well as asking other family members to contribute.

Stay on an investment diet.
Just as eating a wide variety of foods is necessary for sustaining a healthy body, selecting an assortment of investments can help you maintain a sound investment portfolio. Rebalance your 401(k), IRA, and any other investment accounts you have on a regular basis to keep it in sync with your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

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[Last modified: Monday, December 12, 2011 5:01pm]


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