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The costs of caring for family


My wife and I have experienced the costs of caring as we have also had the joy of sharing our home with her father. It’s a good arrangement and has worked well for many years. Both my wife’s mother and father moved into a large “annex” nearly 20 years ago which allowed all of us privacy and independence whilst making it possible to help out – especially a few years ago when her mother died and today as her father negotiates his nineties. We’ve also had spells where we’ve accommodated and supported our sons as they navigated studying at university, leaving home and seeking financial independence.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve observed that when we help people with their financial planning an increasingly common factor which needs to be included is the cost of caring. I don’t mean the provision of long term care for our clients but the cost of caring for their parents and their children.

Historically, once children had left home and finished with their education (and with their parents!) they were usually “off the payroll”. If you had capital you might put aside something for a wedding or for a deposit on a first house but that was about it. Likewise, people didn’t often live long enough to need extensive care.

As a financial planner in years gone by I rarely asked the question, “What costs of caring for your parents or for your children would you like to plan for?” The answer to that question will not only dictate the amount of money needed but will also influence the type of investment chosen and the financial timescales. Things have changed and this is a question we are increasingly bringing to the fore – especially with younger clients in the “accumulation” stage of their lives.

The sorts of additional costs that may arise are:

  • Household bills – the food bill and utilities will edge upwards, possibly insurance as well;
  • Household wear and tear – replacing furnishings and bedding;
  • You may be prevented from moving house or re-sizing because it would be too disruptive to move elderly parents;
  • Travel costs – you may find you are running a second car;
  • Holidays and recreation can get more costly if you find you are the bill-payer!

Individually and occasionally these won’t amount to much but over a longer period they could change the shape of your cashflow forecast. So we will be asking questions about the ways caring for other members of the family may become an issue for you.

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