If you want to start (or grow) a family, you are likely thinking about all the ways your life will change. Of course, one of those elements is your finances. Kids are expensive, after all. How can you plan to have a baby, and what should you consider about your finances or budget before Baby comes?
My husband and I just welcomed our third child — which means we’ve been deep in the weeds of financial planning for our growing family. Here’s what I’ve learned from having three kids and navigating changes to our financial status.
My hope is that every new parent has the ability and opportunity to take parental leave, so they can spend time with their little one. But depending on your job situation, this may or may not be paid time off.
If it’s unpaid, what does this leave look like? Firstly, we want to get extremely clear on the budget. If there’s a benefits package attached to your job, even if it doesn’t specify parental leave, you may have a short-term disability policy that allows you to take leave with 60% pay.
Unfortunately, with many of these policies, the pay doesn’t kick in immediately. So it’s important to know how long that policy will take to come in and how long you’ll be without pay.
Additionally, if you have parental leave, you want to look into the specifics — how long and how much? A second consideration is your health insurance. Some employers may cut off your benefits if you take any leave, so make sure you know whether or not that is the case.
Ultimately we want to see how our financial life is supported by our work policies.
Where Are You Spending Money?
If you’re prepping for a few months or more without pay or with reduced pay, you want to look back on your spending over the last few months. Without judgment, figure out exactly where your money is going and how much. What do you spend on groceries? Entertainment?
This will give you an idea of how much money you and your partner would need to save for a few months of parental leave. Of course, there will be the added cost of a baby in the mix. And I know most of the time, there are a lot of extras we want for our child! While it might not be possible to know exactly what those extras are if you’re a new parent, you can still look into what you want to provide your child and add up the extra expenses.
Again, just be clear and honest with yourself and your wishes here. There’s no problem with wanting to have a lot of extra money to spend on your child — we just need to make sure we’re prepared for that expense!
Having a baby doesn’t automatically mean your child is added to your insurance coverage. What you need to do is see what type of benefits you have. Some insurances charge you per dependent, while others will have a family plan that is inclusive of multiple dependents.
You might be able to rely on family for additional help and support, or you may want to hire out for that support. This could be a housekeeper, a nanny, a chef… the big thing is to decide on the best situation for yourself and your family and figure out how much this will cost.
The amazing part of this is that for childcare and support needs, there are so many options available! This is one of the things I love most about women, families, and the village it takes to raise your kids. When my first daughter was born, we were without childcare for the first 6 months of her life. But after that, we were able to pay a friend to babysit her for a few hours a day while she was taking her daily nap.
Now, that only lasted so long. But afterward, we were able to do a shared nanny among a few local families.
This isn’t always going to be the case (and hasn’t for us). I do want to point out that childcare is expensive — often even more than a mortgage. And I’m going to say something many financial planners might not… that’s okay for this season in your life!
Okay, so those are some of the tactical ways to plan for a child. But this is just Part One! Next week, I’ll be talking about the bigger picture financial planning aspects of having children that don’t get talked about enough. See you then!