(TNS)—Deciding to have children is one of the most life-altering choices you’ll ever make. Joy, stress, excitement, exhaustion, hundreds of books on how to not screw up, and thousands of bucks to prepare your little one: Your plate is now loaded. Here are some considerations to make sure you’re prepared—prepared financially, anyway.
First, got $250,000?
According to CNN Money, it will cost the average, middle-income couple a minimum of $241,080 to raise a child who was born in 2012. And that’s per child. If you want a big family, you face upwards of seven figures just to get your kids out OK some 20 years from now.
Of course this enormous bill won’t hit you at once and I’m sure plenty of Americans raise kids on less. This statistic, however, does highlight the need for some serious planning and organization even as you wallpaper the nursery. In short: Rework that budget.
—Savings. Build emergency savings to cover three to six months of living expenses. Err on the side of caution if your household will have only one income after the birth. Remember, you want this money accessible; don’t sink it into the stock market or tie it up elsewhere.
—New spending. Factor in new or higher expenses such as diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. Start pricing these items and determine if you need to adjust other areas of your budget to compensate.
—Transportation. What does your current car situation look like? Does your vehicle offer safe and adequate room for a child’s car seat? Will you need to put aside money for a second or replacement vehicle? Set a plan to work toward this goal.
—Medical costs. Always read the fine print on your insurance policy regarding coverage throughout the pregnancy, and understand that your premiums and co-pays may increase once your baby arrives. Check with your employer’s human resources department for any tax-advantaged health-spending plans.
Also, you typically have up until 30 days after birth to add your baby to your insurance. Do not miss this window.
—Childcare. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that childcare costs skyrocketed in recent decades. Explore your costs whether for daycare groups, individual care or your own nanny. Are you or your working spouse planning to switch to a stay-at-home parent? Sketch out what your new financial picture will look like with one income instead of two.
—College. Hope to assist your children with higher education? Given these ever-increasing costs, plan to start saving as early as possible. Your retirement comes first, though: Your kids can take out loans and get scholarships for college. Nobody will lend you money for your retirement.
I recently put out a call for new parents to offer tips on parenting. Responses ranged from buying wipes from Costco and diapers from Target to automating your savings and investing before the baby upsets your household schedule.
Among other money-saving tips:
—Network with other parents and families to trade clothes and such items as playpens and swings.
—Never go to the grocery store without a list.
—Don’t buy every big-ticket item prior to your baby coming; borrow such items as baby carriers from friends for a test drive.
—Don’t be loyal to pricey brand names.
Mary Beth Storjohann is the founder of Workable Wealth in San Diego. She writes for AdviceIQ.
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