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- Designing the perfect baby nursery
- 10 tips on how to prepare for labor and delivery
- Preparing for twins: Things to do before your babies’ arrival
- Hospital bag checklist: What to pack for baby, mom, and dad
Having kids is undoubtedly one of the most significant life-altering decisions. If you are not mentally, emotionally, or financially prepared for a baby, this can add to your stress. Nobody wants to be pregnant with no money.
If you’re the primary breadwinner for your family or a single mother trying to figure out how to afford your surprise pregnancy, balancing your current expenses while saving for future expenditures can be a tedious task, along with morning sickness and backache that come in a free pregnancy package.
My experience with an unplanned pregnancy
Unplanned pregnancy is a cocktail blend of emotions and feelings; you’re still trying to wrap your head around those 2 pink lines on the test strip, and the morning sickness and heartburns aren’t helping either. If struggling to make ends meet, the surprise news of an addition to the family may not be what you want right now.
When we first found out we were having twins, it was more shocking than surprising. As thrilled as we were to be blessed with twin daughters, it took us a while to absorb this feeling that there’s going to be not just 1, but 2 new heads in our family photo. We had been trying for a child for over a year, and my husband being a banker, we made sure our accounts books were in check. But as they say, nature has its way of amazing you, especially when you least expect it.
As much as we were trying to stay prepared on paper, news of twins made us nervous and anxious. Taking care of 2 infants would need much more effort and strength than a singleton, but it almost meant double the money to raise 2 kids with the lifestyle we were sustaining. We had to re-do the math and figure out how to cope with an unplanned pregnancy. I can now say that the budget and finance planning wasn’t as hard as I initially anticipated.
With certain tweaks in our lifestyle and saving patterns, we were in a lot more comfortable position to welcome our twins. Although you can never be fully prepared for a baby, there are certain things you can improve on for financial stability before the baby arrives.
If you’re pregnant and need help with money, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to help you sail your budget and pregnancy smoothly. The best part is it doesn’t require a finance degree to decode.
Why should you plan your finances before delivery?
Some significant benefits of early financial planning are:
- It gives you enough time to get used to the new requirements of the family.
- It ensures better savings because the sooner you start putting dollars in your piggy bank, the more the reserves to fall on.
- If you design a proper strategy for saving, it will ease your transition to parenthood.
- It ensures a stress-free pregnancy and delivery.
- You can focus on the baby and new mother instead of worrying about finances.
How to prepare for a baby financially?
The best part about pregnancy is it gives you sufficient time to prepare yourself and your bank accounts and avoid having a baby with no money. You may be living on credit for half of the month or eating chips to survive till you receive your salary credit alerts, but you still have 40 weeks to figure out and fix this. It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
1. Plan your current lifestyle and expenses
To plan and prepare for the future, you first need to gauge where you stand and how that looks.
- Start with basics such as rent, electricity and other bills, groceries and credit card bills, then leisure or luxury expenses.
- Track your expenses from the last 2-3 months to get a fair idea of big and small outflows.
- You might end up surprised by how little is actually essential and how much you end up spending on other not-so-essential stuff.
2. Add the expected increase in expenses
Once you have estimated how much you need for yourself, calculate the money needed for pregnancy, delivery, and child care. Some of the basic bills could be:
- Doctor’s bills
- Pregnancy vitamins or other supplements
- Delivery charges
- Maternity clothes
- Neonatal child care (if the baby is born prematurely)
- Baby’s everyday essentials like diaper, formula, and nappies
While adding future expenses, keep track of both immediate expenses and expenses that will knock on your door a few years later, such as:
- Child care center (one of the biggest and most overlooked holes in the pocket)
- Kindergarten and school
- College fees (of course)
3. Figure out the essentials and prioritize
Categorize your expenses in order of their necessity and urgency.
- House rent, electricity bills, medical bills are both necessary and urgent. Child care can wait a couple of years.
- Prioritizing will show you how much time you have to save for each of your expenses.
- You need to make room in your account statement for hospital bills first, then diapers or formula.
4. Calculate your total inflow
Moving on from expenses to income, it’s time to add up your total monthly earnings.
- Include your spouse’s salary and yours
- If you have more than 1 source of income (like full time and part-time, include both)
- Any aid or scholarship you’re entitled to
5. Estimate the gap
As you have both inflow and outflow, simple math will show you how short you are falling from the minimum balance needed.
How to fill the gap on the balance sheet
The idea of calculating an ideal figure for monthly saving is to make the math a little easier but if this number gives you an unwanted scare and sleepless nights, fret not. You still have almost 35-40 weeks to get closer to the magic number.
These simple tricks will help you fill the gap:
- Decide on the amount you need to save each month.
- Keep this figure as realistic as possible. The last thing you need is an impractical target that makes you more nervous and worried.
- Save first, spend later. Keep the savings you’ve decided upon aside, maybe in a separate account, and use the rest of the money to cover your monthly expenses.
- This will ensure a minimum saving every month.
- A little effort goes a long way.
The “save first, spend later” habit is highly recommended by financial experts to be cultivated early in life and ensures results.
Unexpected expenses no one told me about
As much as we tried to prepare for our twins and their predictable expenses, there were some expenses no one warned me about. Some of these expenses could’ve easily been avoided if I was aware of cheaper options. I am sharing my experiences and learning here so that you can save some extra money that I could not manage to.
1. Maternity wear
Being my first (and only) pregnancy, I was a bit overly enthusiastic. I spent a hefty amount on new maternity wear, which seems completely unnecessary when I look back now. You only need them for a few months and yet they cost a lot. You can easily save this money by borrowing maternity wear from any new mom. She would be happy to make some room in her wardrobe for baby stuff.
2. Baby furniture
The needs of a newborn baby are pretty basic. All they ask for is food, sleep, and diaper change 10-15 times a day. You don’t have to invest in a piece of new or fancy furniture. That car seat, bassinet or crib, stroller, etc., can be bought secondhand. There are lots of items you can tick off from your registry. A kitchen sink works just fine instead of a bathtub. My kids didn’t play with 80% of their toys until they were 4. Instead, kitchen utensils, bowls and Tupperware were their favorite toys for a long time.
3. Child care center
One expense that we completely missed and could not foresee was playgroups and child care centers. Most child care centers are expensive, and when both parents work full-time, this expense is unavoidable. It is thus essential to cater to it in advance.
4. Playgroups/extra activities
School fees are a predictable expense, and everyone caters to it but what we don’t gauge is after-school activities or pre-school playgroups. Most of the playgroups cost around $20 or more per kid per class. You can find a rather convenient and cheaper option at a community-run playgroup. It’s also a perfect place to meet like-minded new moms sailing on the same boat.
Points to keep in mind when planning finances
When you sit down with calculators and planners, make sure you check these essential pointers:
1. Medical insurance
I highly recommend getting proper medical insurance that covers pregnancy and delivery charges. If you already have it, check if it covers doctor’s visits, hospital bills, operation bills (if C-section is needed), and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the newborn. If it doesn’t include any of these, sort that out.
2. Maternity leave policy at the workplace
Some big corporations have a maternity policy with paid leave for a few weeks, while some smaller firms opt for unpaid leave. Don’t forget to check in with your employer as their policies and terms for maternity leave would decide your household’s total income for the next few weeks or months.
3. Life insurance
With a tiny life entirely depending on you, your life matters more now than ever. If you haven’t gotten yourself insured yet, don’t push it further. Get life insurance so that your little one will have some cushion to fall on in case of any unforeseen event.