Having a baby can be exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. Every facet of your life is about to change and that includes your finances. So you’re going to want to reexamine your current situation and make some necessary changes before your little boy or girl joins the family. But in order to implement those changes, you need to know what they are and we’ve got the five most important areas that should get your attention as the due date approaches. The earlier you begin to make these vital money moves, the better prepared you will be for parenthood.
1. Adjusting Your Budget
Babies cost a lot of money. The list of expenses ahead of you are wide-ranging and you better start accounting for them now in your monthly budget. These costs aren’t just for the baby either, there are plenty of pre-natal costs that will need to be considered as well. So the first thing you need to do is redefine your budget to reflect the new expenditures that are pending, before and after the baby is born.
But first you’ll have to do a full assessment of your resources, which includes employment income, your savings, and all your financial obligations that must be met each month. Incorporate everything, variable and fixed expenses alike. Then you can start rethinking what comes in and what goes out. As you start to integrate the essential expenses that are going to eat up more of your resources, it will be important for you to examine the areas where you can cut back on costs while boosting the money you have in the bank. Good budgeting will allow you to allocate your funds appropriately and ensure that everything is covered.
As you adjust your spending and design your budget for before and after the baby arrives, be sure to remember all of the major recurring expenses you’re now faced with. We’re talking diapers, childcare costs, additional food and clothing expenses, and refrain from making large purchases on items that your child is only going to outgrow over time. A stroller is important but think about how much you really want to spend on that item, if you plan on having another child in the future then buy something you know you will be able to re-use for the next baby. If you’re only having one, you know your child is going to outgrow it eventually, so it’s probably best not to spend more than you need to on that purchase.
2. Rethinking Your Insurance
Now that you’re having a child, insurance is going to be more important than ever. This starts with having the right amount of health insurance for you and your child. Pregnancies can bring a long list of medical expenses and you want to have enough coverage so that you won’t be paying those bills out of pocket for prenatal care, labor expenses, or delivery costs.
But while health insurance is important for the parents to have in place as they proceed through pregnancy, you should also be thinking long and hard about making sure the new baby has coverage as well. It’s crucial to find the right pediatrician but you should also ensure that the new doctor is within your network so you don’t incur any charges for services rendered by a medical professional from outside your insurance network.
But health insurance is only one part of the insurance issue. The other is life insurance. Now that you have a child, you want to solidify his or her future. Should something happen to you, a good life insurance policy can be the difference to securing your family’s finances after you’re gone. Getting a good policy now, before you have the child, will put you in a better position later in case of a tragedy.
3. Establishing an Emergency Fund
This is already a prudent thing to do for your finances whether you have kids or not. But now that you’re expecting a child, building an emergency fund is even more important to secure your financial situation. An emergency fund is a monetary cushion that you can rely upon should you become saddled with an unexpected expense that could potentially drain your bank account dry. This can be anything from a car repair to a medical expenditure that is substantial enough to put your finances in jeopardy. With an emergency fund in place, you won’t have to worry about covering your monthly expenses when they are due. A good rule of thumb is to put aside three to six months of expenses in your emergency fund and only touch that money when need be.
4. Never Too Early to Save for College
It’s true. Setting up some kind of college savings account even before your child is born is a good way to get started on paying tuition costs later on. But one thing to remember is that you should not let your retirement savings fall by the wayside in the process. You can always fall back on obtaining a student loan to cover school, but getting a loan for your retirement is far less possible.
One of the popular methods for covering school expenses is a 529 account, which is a savings plan that comes with a variety of advantages. The money grows tax-free on the federal level and, in most states, at the state level as well. You have full control over the money you deposit and the funds are there when your child is ready to attend an accredited institution of higher learning.
5. Planning Ahead
Another thing to consider is to look into the future beyond just getting life insurance. Good estate planning where you can establish a will, a living trust, and other legal matters that pertain to your child’s well-being after you pass on can get ensure your wishes are obeyed after you pass on. That means setting up a distribution strategy of your assets to your child in the manner you see fit.