Without a doubt, having a baby is a life-changing experience. Give yourself one fewer thing to worry about by preparing your finances now, or you’re going to figure out your budget while changing diapers and feeding your little one.
It’s hard to determine exactly how much you will be spending each month on child-related expenses. Don’t use this as an excuse to fall out of budgeting all together. There are certain expenses that will be fairly steady (daycare, diapers, clothing, food, insurance), and a few that will be sporadic (copays, gifts, toys and gear you didn’t know you’d need). Create a line in your budget for each steady expense and a catch-all category for sporadic expenses. Do your research and determine what products and services you’ll be using. Then give your best estimate of expenses. Make sure to update this budget after your bundle of joy is born to more accurately reflect your expenses.
It’s not going to just be you and your partner now, you have a third member of your family who will be quite costly (but totally worth it). Unfortunately your baby isn’t going to be contributing to the monthly income just yet, so you need a safety net. Here’s where life insurance comes in. Consult with your partner and a few life insurance providers. Many say that term life insurance is sufficient, but weigh your options and make an educated decision based on your circumstances.
With your new addition, now is a good time to evaluate your emergency fund. Is your savings sufficient to cover any baby related emergencies? I’d suggest increasing your fund by half in preparation. There will be unexpected expenses, it’s much better to have too much cushion than too little. From time to time, review your savings to reassess your optimum savings goals.
With babies everything is little, from the little socks to their little toes. There is so much wonder and cuteness in every stage of their life, but I think especially in the first year when they grow so quickly. Sometimes it seems that the tiniest baby clothes cost just as much as adult clothing. With your baby’s quick growth in mind, consider buying everyday pieces from a clean and cute second hand shop or borrowing from friends and family. You can still splurge and buy a few things retail, but considering the quality of some second hand stores I’ve been in lately, you might not ever go back to paying full price.
It’s ok to splurge here and there if your budget allows, but there’s no need to buy the most expensive of each and every baby product. Focus any splurges on items you will use day in and day out, like a stroller, crib or mattress. Check out local overstock stores and shop online to try to find deals on everything else. And don’t forget to read the safety reviews – just because it’s the most expensive doesn’t mean it’s the safest.
If you just aren’t sure about a type of product, ask your friends or family for their advice. They are also a good resource for finding a dependable daycare if you need one. They can also tell you which items you really won’t use more than once or twice. See if you can borrow these items instead of purchasing them to save a pretty penny.
Even if you are completely new to budgeting or are taking a look at your post-baby finances for the first time, don’t panic. Consider tracking your spending for a month to see where your money is going. This will give you a good idea of how much you spend on things. From there you can start with a rough draft budget, updating and fine tuning it as the months progress.
Even if it will only cover the cost of some ice cream, budget for alone time with your partner. It’s really easy to switch focus from your relationship to your child and never look back. Take the time to reconnect with your spouse away from your beautiful baby. It will keep your relationship strong and provide you with a little adult time you might not have realized you needed until you got it.
Having a child is an amazing and terrifying experience. By preparing your finances in advance you can reduce the financial stress on you and your family and enjoy as much time as possible with your little one.
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Photo Credits: Whose Baby is This?! by Flickr: Guian Bolisay; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com