So you’ve decided to start a family. Congratulations! Though daunting, the journey toward parenthood is rewarding as well. The exciting start to your family begins now, and there’s a lot to do to prepare for a baby.
Read on to learn more about the financial aspects of parenthood that you’ll want to prioritize.
1. Prepare Your Home
First, you’ll need an adequate place in which to raise your family. Whether you decide to have one child, two, or ten, you’ll want to ensure that you will have enough space. Especially if you have pets, which can be just like another child.
You may be living in an apartment, so you’ll need to consider your options if this is the case. If your current apartment is large enough for a child, that may work, but it is likely that you’ll need more room eventually. Consider an apartment with at least two bedrooms and in a safe location.
If you’re ready to move on to purchasing a house, it’s crucial to get preapproved for a home loan. This determines how much money you can borrow and, therefore, how much house you can afford.
You have a few options here as well: if you can afford it and intend on having a larger family, it might be worth financing a larger home so you and your family can grow into it. However, you may also choose to buy a smaller home to start out or if you intend to have a smaller family.
Related to loans is your credit, which is an important factor in determining your eligibility for borrowing money, renting an apartment, and getting approved for a credit card.
You may be younger, have not built up enough history to build credit, or have poor credit. In this case, it’s a good idea to focus on your credit for at least a few months to ensure it’s the best it can be before taking out large loans.
There’s a lot you can do to increase your credit score, but here are some of the best loan options for people with bad credit. It’s best to plan early and wisely to make sure your credit only improves.
2. Consider the Short-term Costs
Next, you’ll want to save money for the future. Children cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise, so optimizing your finances now will set you and your family up for success later in life.
There are both short-term and long-term costs.
Short-term, you’ll want to prepare for buying baby supplies such as diapers, bottles, baby clothes, baby food – all the typical supplies for a newborn. Setting up the baby’s room will require a crib and some form of diaper changing station.
Soon after that, you should consider the costs of a nanny or babysitter, as you and your partner may need the extra help when returning to work.
In case of an emergency such as a sudden illness or disaster, you’ll want to cover your bases with an emergency fund, or a savings account meant for such emergencies. There are many strategies to handle unexpected medical costs in addition to dipping into a savings account that may help you if you are in a tight spot with money.
3. And the Long-Term Costs
As a child grows up, their financial needs change. Long-term, you’ll need to think about the costs of daycare, health insurance, new clothes as your child grows, any hobbies, activities, or sports, and even college savings.
Children attend daycare anywhere from during their first year of age to five or six years old, when they can attend school. Depending on how long you choose to send your child to daycare or hire a nanny to cover these responsibilities, the cost will add up in the long run.
Another family member also means you’ll need to add them to your insurance plan and account for the costs of medical visits throughout your child’s life.
As your child physically grows, they’re going to go through a lot of clothes, often needing new shirts, coats, pants, and more each year. Many children also pick up sports or hobbies that cost money to attend or participate in. Competitive sports are often expensive as they require specialized gear or regular fees.
Lastly, your child may or may not attend college. If so, college tuition is often very expensive, so it’s a wise decision to start a 529 account, or savings account meant specifically for education expenses.
4. Know Your Parental Leave Policy
As you prepare your finances for the start of your new family, you’ll want to check with your job’s parental leave policy. Many companies offer a certain number of weeks for the new parent at full pay if they fulfill the criteria to qualify for such time off.
This policy usually also covers fosters or adoptions in lieu of the birth of a child, in case you and your partner use these alternative methods to start a family.
You’ll want to plan for utilizing this time off in the beginning months of childcare and then arrange the transition back to work. This could mean a nanny or family member filling in for when you and/or your partner are away.
5. Alternatives: Adopting or Fostering
While many people are able to give birth to their own biological children, there are options if that isn’t possible for you or is not your preference. However, both choices demand different financial plans.
Fostering usually includes programs that reimburse the parents or provide stipends to cover the expenses.
Adoption, however, is a different game, and there are many different routes you can take. Adopting domestically versus internationally is going to have a difference in costs, as well as the age of the child. If this method is the one you want to pursue, it’s critical that you do your research ahead of time and carefully plan out your finances, as travel and lodging costs will be significantly higher. Either way, adoption by itself can be quite expensive and requires tenacious planning.
Financial Planning for Growing Families
Starting a family is no easy task, however, there are several ways to ensure that you are financially prepared for such a journey. This takes time and finances should be among the first and most important aspects to consider and plan before beginning your own family.
Once you take the steps to save money, prepare your home, anticipate short and long-term costs as well as plan around work, and consider all of your methods of having a child, you will be setting yourself up for the success of you and your family!
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Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.