You’ve probably heard the term “adulting” thrown around on social media. It’s a way of talking about the real world responsibilities that no one finds fun but that we all have to do. Besides those day-to-day tasks, “adulting” also includes planning for the bigger events in life. Whether it’s the fun ones like getting married or the hard ones like handling unexpected changes, we all need a solid plan to protect our futures and our families.
#1  Expect the Unexpected
If there’s one thing you can count on when it comes to unexpected life events, it’s that you can’t control everything. Having a smart plan for the future should include strategies to manage those things we don’t see coming. What if one spouse loses their job, or what if one spouse passes away unexpectedly? These aren’t circumstances we want to think about, but you need a contingency plan for getting through the “what-if” scenarios.
Life’s Big Events
One of the best things you can do is estate planning. According to Investopedia, in addition to setting up a will or trust, estate planning should also include establishing a durable power of attorney, designating beneficiaries, creating a letter of intent to the executor of your will, designating a healthcare power of attorney, and choosing a guardian for your children. 
Now is also a good time to start making arrangements for your funeral. Though this may be an uncomfortable topic, planning in advance can help your family through the grieving process, since they’ll have a better understanding of your wishes for burial and service. Planning for these arrangements should also include paying in advance, so that your family can save money on funeral expenses. There are several ways to put aside money for your funeral, such as setting up a joint bank account with family members, purchasing burial insurance, and signing up for “pre-need” insurance through a funeral home. Whichever option you choose, be sure to have a gentle conversation about it with your family, and let them know the specific arrangements you have in mind.
Along with these steps to make sure your wishes are carried out and that your assets are protected, it’s also important to think about your family’s needs, especially their financial future. The best way to protect them is by purchasing life insurance. One of the most popular options is a 30-year term life insurance policy. These policies are best for people who can anticipate their loved ones having expenses for a length of about 30 years, such as paying off a mortgage, replacing the income of a primary breadwinner, or caring for a family member with special needs.
#2  Set Life Goals
Thinking about life goals sounds like an overwhelming prospect, but it really is simpler than you think. Look at the big picture, and consider how your overall wants and needs fit in with your financial goals. Do you have kids, or do you plan to? Do you plan on one partner being a stay-at-home parent? What about saving for college? Laying out these goals is the first step toward making sure you have the right financial plan. Then, you can take steps like opening a college savings account or paying down debt.
#3  Stay Proactive
Even if you have a solid plan for the future, whenever you have major life changes, you may need to reevaluate your financial plan. According to Discover, the primary changes that warrant a second look at your finances are marriage, the birth of a baby, and having a child start college. Of course, smaller life events can impact your financial plan too.
When these events happen, you don’t have to change everything you’re doing, and you should never make rash decisions. You just need to assess your situation and decide what (if any) changes make sense. For example, Nerdwallet lays out the financial steps you should take when a baby is on the way. But with all the new things you should do, don’t forget your long-term goals, like contributing to retirement accounts. Part of staying proactive also means taking smart risks. The word “risk” may sound negative, but taking smart risks can payoff. 
You should also keep communication about money open with family members. Talking to family about money isn’t easy, but there are certain conversations you need to have not just with your spouse, but also with aging parents. 
Having these conversations about finances will ensure you’re on the same page with those close family members. This is just one way to be proactive about meeting your financial goals. Make a priority to do all of these steps, and you can be confident that you and your family will be protected for the long term.

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