Pregnancy is a time of excitement but is also a time of uncertainty, especially when it comes to finances. No matter how much you read or research, so much of becoming a parent lies in the unknown. At Abacus, our goal is to help transform that uncertainty into a solid, grounded plan so you can move confidently towards building a new family.
Parents-to-be are rightly worried about the start-up costs of having a baby. It’s important to remember the baby care market is a $47 billion industry trying to persuade eager young parents to buy all kinds of things that baby will likely never use or will grow out of quickly. New babies actually need very little to thrive.
What if instead of buying all the latest gear you thought you needed, you put that money to better use? Skip the fancy gliders, changing tables, and other bells and whistles (don’t worry, your bundle of joy won’t know the difference) and do what’s best for baby by investing in a secure future.
The following simple, positive steps are small things you can do (while you still have enough time and energy!) to prepare for your new arrival.
Master your financial life by staying educated.
Anticipating Pregnancy or First Trimester
- If you’re in debt, make it a top priority to create a debt management plan to pay off as much debt as possible before the baby arrives.
- Talk with your partner about spending changes you’ll have pre- and post-baby and work to create a new household budget. Ensure it includes diapers, increased health insurance costs, and child care expenses. Get term life insurance policies (or increase existing coverage) for yourself and your partner.
- Increase your emergency savings fund from three months to six months. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start stashing away a few hundred dollars a month if possible.
- Create a “baby fund” savings account to help cover the first 12 months of baby necessities and unexpected doctor visits.
- Increase your health savings account or flex-spending contributions to cover increased co-pays and delivery deductible during pregnancy if applicable.
- Update your will and/or living trust.
- Notify any guardians that have been named in your will and make sure they’re on board.
- Create advance healthcare directive.
- Double-check beneficiaries on all existing retirement and life insurance accounts.
- Call your health insurance to verify coverage for delivery, baby’s post-delivery care, and the deductible for your hospital visit.
- Update tax withholding on your W-4 and check for child tax credits.
- Make a binder or folder with your current account information, life insurance policies, and will in case of emergency.
- Make photocopies of all your health insurance cards.
- Put insurance copies and advance healthcare directive or birth plan in hospital bag.
- Pay all bills or schedule automatic payments one month prior to the due date.
- Set up all bills on automatic payment thereafter.
- Call Human Resources to verify any benefits forms needed to update post-baby.
- Download an Employment Development Department (EDD) family medical leave application for each parent’s parental leave, then check with HR on the same call about procedures.
- Make sure your taxes are up to date and any quarterly estimates are paid.
- Complete baby’s birth certificate at the hospital.
- Apply for baby’s Social Security card and passport if international travel is likely.
- Add baby to family health insurance policy within 30 days of delivery.
- Open a separate account to invest gifts from family members.
- Open a dependent care flex-spending for tax-free savings and use that money for daycare costs.
Other Things To Consider
You now have a new dependent. If your baby depends on your income, you need to protect those earnings. Make sure you have both short- and long-term coverage.
Planning for day care is critical. This will be one of the biggest costs for your child in the years before pre-school. Funds need to be budgeted regardless if it’s for a nanny, day care, or even if one spouse stays home to take care of the child.
Early Education Costs
One of the biggest costs of raising a child is education. College costs alone are increasing faster than the rate of inflation. But that doesn’t take into account elementary, middle, or high school costs. Before buying a house for your new family, check out the quality of local public schools. If you choose to send your child to private school, you may end up paying for 15 years of education even before college tuition.
Open A College Savings Account
By starting now, you have 18 years to let those investments grow. Consider opening a 529 college savings plan and making automatic monthly contributions.
Contribute to a FSA/HSA
As mentioned earlier, you can save money on a variety of child care expenses by using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), and/or save money on health care costs with an FSA or Health Savings Account (HSA). These plans allow for tax-deductible contributions, so the higher the taxes you pay, the more you save. Just be careful of the FSA use-it-or-lose-it provisions and make sure to drain the account by the end of the year.
Create an Estate Plan
Who would you want to take care of your child if something happened to you? This is the time to create or update your estate documents to make sure you control what happens if you predecease your child. These documents include a living trust, will, living will/medical directive and durable power of attorney. It’s not pleasant to think about, but deciding now is better than hoping a court will make the best decision for your child later. Admittedly, life insurance policies and drafting estate plans are far less cute than a cart full of new clothes. But these are the things you really need to keep your baby safe and well-cared-for.
Take a Little Time Today to Plan For Tomorrow
Don’t worry if you can’t do everything on this list. Every family approaches the unknowns of life differently and has their own unique situation. But the more of these you can be aware of and proactively have in place, the more time and peace of mind you’ll have to focus on living in the present with your newborn.
Remember, starting a family is an exciting time but it can also be stressful. Planning ahead ensures you’re as prepared as possible and helps relieve inevitable uncertainties. An Abacus financial advisor can help keep you on track so you can focus on the joys of parenting instead of worrying about those unexpected costs around the corner. Schedule a call today.