Can you afford to have a baby?
Sure, it’s an age-old question that people have been trying to accurately answer, for generations. Or, at least since paid maternity leave was a thing.
When you first examine the cost – up to $12,000 in baby’s first year, according to a USDA study – it can certainly seem out of reach for many couples. Not to mention that these added costs come at a time when one or both parents are taking additional time off of work, sometimes without pay.
So, how can you make room in your budget for baby?
Like getting your body ready by taking prenatal vitamins, or kicking those unhealthy habits, there are steps you can take before baby arrives to ensure the financial health of your family.
- Get up to speed on your health care plan. Not all health care plans are created equal. And not every plan covers every part of your care. Read the fine print on yours to better understand what charges will be paid for up front and which might require you to pay for first and submit later for reimbursement. Then you can begin to budget for the cost of your pregnancy, which will be great practice for budgeting for baby.
- Speaking of budgets, balance yours – or if you don’t keep a budget, start one. Getting control of your finances begins with an understanding of how you’re spending and then making more informed choices. Have credit card debt? Start to pay it down now. Thinking of staying home with baby after she’s born? Try living off a single income now, before baby is on the scene, to get a better understanding of the real choices – and sacrifices – you’ll need to make in your day-to-day spending.
- Make smart choices when buying for baby. New parents are especially prone to buying any and everything for their new little bundle of joy. Nothing is too good for baby! However, when it comes down to it, many of us overspend to the tune of thousands of extra dollars. Baby-planning experts recommend buying higher price tag items that you’ll get the most use out of, like a car seat, but spending less on the items that are more decorative than useful. Also, it helps to have an experienced parent on hand when making some of those purchase decisions. It’s easy to get caught up in all the cuteness, but a mom or dad who’s taken the Bugaboo around the block a few times will help keep you focused and guide your choices toward the practical, saving you plenty of money in the long run.
Need some help budgeting for baby? Try BabyCenter’s “Baby Cost Calculator.”
Sources: Parenting Magazine, 2014; WebMD, 2014