July: Have the Talk
For those of you with camp-age kids, July no doubt involves a Parents' Day full of festivities. I'm proposing a different spin on Parents' Day: Take time to talk to your parents about their financial well-being. First, confirm that they have the key estate documents: a will, a revocable living trust, and durable power of attorney for both healthcare and financial matters. Have they reviewed their beneficiaries recently? If not, they should do so now. Next, look into long-term care insurance at www.LongTermCare.gov. Finally, help them formulate an advance directive—a document that spells out the medical care an individual wants in the event he or she becomes physically unable to communicate. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but it lets your parents know that if the time comes, you'll make sure their exact wishes are followed. That's a great way to honor what they mean to you.
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August: Teach Your Children a Lesson
This school year, think about instituting new money rules for you and your kids. I'm a big advocate of a work-for-pay setup rather than an allowance that isn't attached to chores—it's a great way to impart the value of money to your children.
Timely Tip: If you need a new car, August is the time to shop—dealers are eager to make room for next year's models.
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September: Check, Please!
Have you checked your credit report in the past year? Didn't think so. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can access your reports on file at the big-three credit bureaus—for free. If you anticipate taking out a loan in the next six months or may be job hunting, or if your credit report turns up any mistakes, you should also obtain your FICO credit score ($16; MyFICO.com.)
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October: Brace for Life's Tricks
I wish you only treats this Halloween. But while we all hope for the best, we still need to prepare for the worst. Parents of young children must have life insurance and a will in place—it's non-negotiable. For most families, term life insurance is the easiest and least expensive solution. Go to SelectQuote.com or AccuQuote.com to make sure you're looking out for your family's best interests if the worst should happen.
Timely Tip: Parents of new college grads: The six-month grace period between graduation and repayment for many student loans is approaching. Make sure repayment arrangements are nailed down.How to buy life insurance
November: Bag the Best Benefits
Fall is typically open-enrollment period at work, when you can make changes to your benefits package for the coming year. If you learn that your health insurance rates will increase next year, check whether your company offers a high-deductible plan that's paired with a health savings account. If you're in good health, this can be a great way to reduce your premium costs by agreeing to pay a higher deductible (minimum of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for families). You can then invest in an HSA, which allows your tax-deductible contributions to be used for medical expenses, including the deductible. Your unused HSA balance can be rolled over and used in subsequent years.
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December: Pay in Cash
Financially speaking, December can be rough: Gift giving, holiday parties, and vacations all take their toll. My advice? Stash your credit cards and live within your means all 31 days of this month. Avoiding that nasty January credit card bill that you can't pay off is the surest way to start the new year on the right financial foot.
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Suze Orman can be seen on Ask Oprah's All-Stars. Submit your questions for Suze here.