The message that babies are expensive is constantly repeated. Should we sit down and calculate how much we will spend on diapers, how much income we will lose if we stay at home with our children, and whether we can truly afford a baby – before we start using that ovulation calendar and hoping for a positive pregnancy test? It is a good idea to get a global idea of the cost of raising children, but at the same time, remembering there are always ways to save money too keeps things in perspective. Here are five ways in which having a baby will impact your finances… and some suggestions on how to minimize the costs.
1. Let’s start at the beginning. Once you find out you have a baby on the way, and start noticing pregnancy signs and symptoms, finding an OB or a midwife to provide prenatal care is a priority for most women. Checking what type of healthcare providers your insurance policy covers, and how much copay would amount to, before you get pregnant minimizes the cost of pregnancy, and maximizes your options. Many insurance policies limit women to certain labor and delivery choices (like OB-only) or to a particular hospital. Having choices is good!
2. If you are planning to have one parent stay at home with the child(ren), there is arguably not much point in working out just how much income you will lose that way. It is, however, an excellent idea to make a budget that shows you how you would function with the new income. Trying to live off one income for a while before you start trying to conceive (and putting the second salary into your savings account) will give you a good idea of whether it is workable. It also gives you extra money to buy baby gear. Do keep ind mind that staying at home for several years may also limit your future career options.
3. Those couples who are committed to having two incomes and two careers would greatly benefit from calculating the cost of childcare in their area. Sometimes, such a large chunk comes out of the income after paying for childcare that working hardly pays off. Researching childcare possibilities as soon as possible, and looking beyond traditional childcare facilities as well, can help you save lots of money.
4. Big-ticket baby items like strollers and cribs might seem to cost a lot of money when you buy them, but these are minimal when looking at the big picture. Besides, these items come in a wide range of prices – and then there is always Craig’s List of second hand stores. But those smaller, recurring expenses, really do add up. Think of diapers (cloth is a possibility too!), clothes, toys, and formula for those who need it. It is all too easy to lose track of the money you spend yon cute baby items, so making a budget and sticking to it can help limit the expenses.
5. Think babies are expensive? Just how much are teenagers going to cost? Families who would like to help their children pay for college might be facing a huge burden when that time comes. You can make it easier by already starting an education fund when your babies are still small.
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