Maybe you’re going to adopt or maybe you just found out you’re pregnant. However you’ll be growing your family, congrats - you’re about to become a new mom or dad! Your world is about to change BIG TIME! The time right before I became a parent was a super weird time, financially speaking, for me. I bounced back and forth between feeling like my spouse and I needed to go on as many dates and trips as possible and stressing about how we needed to save as much money as possible. Babies and kids are pretty expensive and they need a lot of stuff, but when will it ever be just the two of us again? (Spoiler: Hardly ever will it be just the two of you again) There are so many factors to consider when planning your new (financial) lifestyle with a child.
First of all, think now about how much leave you’ll take when the child arrives. How much of this time will be paid vs. unpaid? How will you pay your bills during the weeks that you’ll have to take unpaid? Consider saving a little every week now to pay yourself during your unpaid leave time. If you’re lucky enough to have all your leave paid for, consider saving extra for one of the things below.
Next, check with your insurance company on the cost of having a child. Do they pay a percentage? Is there a co-pay per day for your hospital stay? This could be a significant expense or a nominal co-pay paid at the beginning of your pregnancy. As with any expense, it’s best to know about it ahead of time and plan/save for it. While you’re at it, find out how much it costs to add a child onto your health insurance. Consider different options for health insurance: Is it cheaper to have everyone on your insurance? Or maybe you should all consider moving over to your spouse’s insurance plan? The good news is that should you have a second child, you probably won’t pay more, as most family plans cover several children for the same price.
What things will you need for a new baby or child? What things are must haves and are needed right away and what things might you be able to skip or wait to purchase? What can you get second hand and what things are important for you to have new? The Internet is your friend. Start researching and reaching out to friends now.
If you’ll be returning to work, what level of childcare will you need and what is the weekly/monthly expense of this care? Consider this expense against your net paycheck per week or month. Most daycare centers require a payment per week. While the trust you have in a daycare and the care they give your child is of the utmost importance, consider the advantage of a daycare that takes credit cards. Use this as a way to earn some cash back but be careful that you aren’t using this as an excuse to sign up for care that’s out of your budget. Consider home daycare. While each has its own benefits, a home daycare will usually be more budget friendly than a daycare center. If you have heart palpitations when you compare the weekly cost of daycare to your weekly net paycheck, perhaps consider starting to save ahead of time for this expense. A little goes a long way towards getting you started. I have two kids in full time care and I often ask myself and my co-workers, “What in the world did we spend all this extra money on before we had kids?!” The good news is that several of the things you probably spent your disposable income on before you had children will be things you’ll likely put on the back burner while your children are young and need daycare. My main recommendation would be to find a balance between planning financially for kids and living it up a little before you’re home bound and covered in spit up (I kid, of course).
Jennifer has been a Webster Bank customer since 2003. She is a blogger for CTWorkingMoms.com,an online community for women balancing work and family life. She and her husband are raising two young girls in the Hartford area. She's very excited about a recent collaboration between thebump.com and CTWorkingMoms.com to promote Judgement-Free Motherhood with a Moms for Moms Day on March 4, 2014.