Magazine article USA TODAY

New Parents Need New Plan

Magazine article USA TODAY

New Parents Need New Plan

Article excerpt

Dramatic changes in one's life often require a reassessment of personal finances. Few events have a more profound impact than the arrival of a first child. The estimated cost to raise offspring through age 17 is $127,080 to $254,400 for an average-income family, according to 2002 figures from the Department of Agriculture. This cost does not include college education, or the forgone wages and benefits one or both parents might incur while raising a child. So, if you are expecting or have a newborn, here are some suggestions from the Financial Planning Association, Denver, Colo.:

Get that Social Security number. Obtain a Social Security number for your child as soon as possible not because he or she is going to work anytime soon, but because the number will entitle you to several tax benefits that will help defray child-rearing costs. For example, unless your taxable income is too high, you can claim a $1,000 child tax credit. You also are entitled to a $3,050 tax deduction for your new dependent. You may qualify for a tax credit for child-care expenses. Moreover, a single parent may be able to file as head of household, which can provide additional tax breaks.

Review employer benefits and paychecks. Consider increasing by at least one or two the number of allowances you check off on your W-4 form at work, This will add to the amount of your take-home pay in response to the additional deductions you will receive. Place your child on your health insurance plan, and review possible changes. …

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