While having a child is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences in life, it is also one of the most expensive. From childcare to education funds, there are many costs to consider. But what costs should you prioritize as you prepare for a baby and in the first months after? Having a baby in the US costs on average $10,808, but because everyone’s situation varies, the cost can climb as high as $30,000.
With some preparation, you can focus more on the joys of being a parent and less on how those joys affect your bank account. Here are five ways to plan for the financial impact of a new baby.
Your health insurance coverage can be one of the largest cost-savers, so it’s important to look into this before you even become pregnant. Your health insurance includes pregnancy and maternity care under federal law, but there are a few exceptions. For example, if you’re under 26 years old and on your parent’s insurance, health insurance isn’t required to cover delivery and newborn care. In addition to getting your health insurance in order, ensure your doctor and hospital are in-network to avoid any surprise bills. If you’re unclear about any part of your insurance, the best thing to do is call and ask your provider.
Life insurance may not be top of mind during pregnancy, but it’s valuable investment for parents. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the average cost of raising a child to age 17 is $233,610. Without life insurance coverage, these expenses can harm a family during an already devastating time. To understand how much coverage you need, consider your family’s income and debt, in addition to childcare and education. Ethos’ online application makes it easy to get a quote quickly and within your budget.
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires US companies with over 50 employees to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave. If this is you, you may want to look into how to prepare for those weeks without income. This could mean better budgeting, working extra work hours, saving vacation time, or all of the above. While this is the minimum required by law, many companies are taking steps to improve their benefits packages including paid and extended time off. Whatever your situation is, make sure you understand your rights and talk to your employer about your options.
Babies grow up fast and before you know it, that onesie you bought them as a newborn will be too small. Garage sales and discount stores are great places to shop for things like decorations, clothes, and toys. Keep your eyes open for deals before your baby arrives and you’ll spend (and worry) less later on. Keep in mind while a lot of baby gear is fine to use second-hand, it’s better to buy some items new, especially if there is any question around safety. Items such as car seats, cribs, and strollers have evolved over the years, so you’ll want to stick with something current.
Your lifestyle will change with children—assessing it early will save you stress down the road. Two large financial costs to evaluate include your home and car. You should consider whether your current home suits where you’d like to raise a family, including your local school district. Do you have enough space? Want a yard? Make a list of your home must-haves and start looking early. As for your car, it may be time to trade it in for a four-door hatchback with the latest safety features. Get ahead of these changes and you’ll be glad you did.