The Family Way: Addressing your Financial Responsibilities as a Parent

Becoming a parent is a big deal, no matter how you look at it. Make sure you’ve got everything in place before the happy arrival, and new parenthood may be a lot easier than you imagine. Now is the time to get your financial house in order in anticipation of the blessed event that is bound to change your life in significant ways.

Before you make a baby

It’s a good idea to sit down as a couple and take a look at your future well in advance of becoming pregnant. Think about the ways you’ll reconfigure your personal and social life. Do you envision mommy going back to work, or will she stay at home while daddy earns the family living? If mom does return to work shortly after the birth of a baby, who will be in charge of day care? Do you want to hire an at-home babysitter, or would you prefer to enroll your little one in a pleasant daycare facility?

While you’re pregnant

Soon-to-be parents need to look at their current expenses and devise a postpartum budget, too. Carefully examine child care costs and don’t forget to factor in extra charges for extended hours. Many days care centers operate at similar hours to other businesses. Parents who are accustomed to staying late at the office may need to rethink that strategy or find a way to pay the additional price.

Eliminate as much debt as possible before the birth of your new baby. Speak with a professional, and learn how to settle your debts. Open a savings account in your child’s name at birth, and by the time they are ready to go off to college, much of that future expense may be covered. It may seem outlandish now but trust us. Time passes quickly and before you know it, your cute little baby will be a teenager with a whole different set of expenses.

Have enough cash stashed to tide your family over for three months to half a year, advises USA Today. Experts estimate that a couple spends around $13,000 per year to raise a child. During pregnancy, both parents would be wise to stock away money for anticipated and unexpected financial events. If one parent expects to stay home while the other returns to work, put together a budget that works with only one income. Determine if maternity leave will be paid and for how long.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Make a will. There are many websites that provide DIY will forms, but it’s generally a better idea to have a professional draw up the documents. Obtain a life insurance policy for each parent, as well. If the worst happens and one parent dies, the surviving family may not suffer financial hardship, say financial experts at The Guardian.

Having a baby is an exciting experience. Plan ahead, stay calm, make a budget and stick with it. A few savvy decisions now can lead to a happier financial life for your new family.