When you’re expecting a child, there’s a few things that happen. People begin to offer their own experience with childbirth, even people you don’t know. You might look at things differently while pregnant as you start to plan out the future. Having a child does affect your family finances. With everything you have going on while expecting a child, husband and wife alike, it can be easy to make some missteps with money. Watch out for these common mistakes to keep your financial house in order before you welcome a new family member.
"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him." 1 Samuel 1:27 ESV
Not Having an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is tremendously important. A rainy day fund is even more important when you have a child. Unlike your phone bill, unexpected events never happen the same way twice. That’s the key behind why you need an emergency fund. Unexpected events WILL happen and impact your wallet. By building an emergency fund, you can help keep these events from causing significant stress to your family. This financial buffer will also keep you from getting into debt when the unexpected happens.
Buying Stuff You Don’t Need
You don’t need everything in the “Baby” category on Amazon. There is an understandable desire to put everything in place before the baby arrives. For many things this is a good instinct. The instinct to avoid is buying something you might not need, just in case. Talk to friends and family about what is really needed and remember if you miss something that is really needed, you can always find the item easily.
Not doing a before and after budget
Sit down with your spouse and compare your budget before baby and with the baby. You’ve never done a budget before? Now is the time. Make allowances for childcare, diapers, and all the rest so you know what to expect.
Not checking the cost of a delivery etc.
Avoid a surprise bill with a bit of research. Contact your insurance company and ask about what your plan covers for childbirth. They should be able to provide some general estimates for what a typical birth will cost with your plan. Also, contact your OB-GYN or other provider to ask these same questions. Don’t afraid to get specific. If your provider expects something like a C-section, then be sure to ask about how your insurance covers this procedure. There may still be unexpected costs, but getting a starting point now will save you from some surprises later.
Buying new vs. buying what you need
You don’t have to buy brand new stuff for the baby in every case. A gently used crib, as an example, can save you money while still providing what your child will need.
Losing focus on long term financial goals
Having a child is a massive change in your family life. Welcome that change, but keep an eye on longer term money goals. This includes continuing to put money in your 401k and save, paying down debt like a student loan, and other important goals. Some of these goals may evolve or change, but don’t forget about them entirely.
Not having Life Insurance
It’s unpleasant to think about but providing financial resources if one or both parents were to pass away is critical. Life insurance is a way to make sure the resources are available to take care of your child from infancy all the way up to college. Term insurance will be the best solution for many families, but individual situations and needs will vary.
Not Having a Will
Simply put, if you pass without a will, the government decides what happens to your child. You don’t want that. Take time to put your wishes in writing with the proper legal documents. This includes selecting who will care for your child if both parents were to pass. Selecting a guardian for your child is important and should not be delayed.
Not researching benefits at work
Benefits provided by your employer are an important part of your compensation. To get the most out of your health insurance, research the options. For most benefit packages, having a child a is a “qualifying event”. Normally, you’re only allowed to change your benefits during open enrollment, usually in the fall. A qualifying event like the birth of a child allows you the opportunity to change the plan you chose for medical insurance to another option your employer might offer. Take time to review the different options. Keep in mind that your future new family member will have well visits to the pediatrician and occasional sniffles that carry costs. A plan change might not be warranted but take the time to make an informed choice.
“Life is a flame that is always burning itself out, but it catches fire again every time a child is born.” George Bernard Shaw
Have Some Grace for Each Other
As parents, you will make some mistakes. It will be all right. Have forgiveness for each other when a mistake happens. Watch out the money mistakes above and focus on preparing for your new family member. Congratulations Mom and Dad!
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