How much does having a baby cost, anyway?
Like, a lot. Around $233,610 from birth to age 17, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And those numbers are conservative. The good news is, that amount is spread out over time. With some smart financial planning, you can have a baby and still maintain your sanity…for the most part, anyway.
Checklist to Help You Save for a Baby
Here are a few steps to cross off your list as you get your finances in order for this next – crazy, scary, wonderful, unforgettable – chapter of your life.
Have an emergency fund. No exceptions.
A couple hundred dollars would be a great place to start. Then, work toward saving enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses (and even more if you can swing it). Once you’ve built up a nice chunk of change, move your money into a high-yield savings account, such as a money market account so you can earn even more money without any extra effort.
Consider medical costs.
Even if you have health insurance, having a baby (and the doctor visits that go with it) can be expensive. Contact your insurance company to find out what it could cost for prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care. You never know exactly how your pregnancy will go, but even a rough range can help with your financial planning.
Build your post-baby budget.
Babies require a lot of stuff. From diapers and wipes to car seats and baby monitors, you’ll have a lot of expenses that weren’t there before. Be sure to factor in your maternity leave and any loss of income during that time. Consider whether you’ll need daycare and formula – and their monthly costs. A budget tracking spreadsheet can help you see the big picture at a glance.
Practice living on your baby budget beforehand.
Once you’ve laid out your baby budget, set up an automatic savings deposit and start putting away the amount it will cost to cover those extra baby expenses. It’s like practicing for life with a baby before it happens, so you can get a sense of what your financial life might look like. It will also give you a cushion of savings to fall back on if you need it.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Remember that you were a person before you were a parent. You have needs too, and you shouldn’t feel bad about investing in your wellbeing. Continue paying into your retirement. Continue putting money into your savings, so you can treat yourself once in a while or spring for a babysitter on date night. Continue being you (just with less sleep).
Take these financial planning steps before your tiny human arrives, so you can stress a little less and enjoy a little more. Plus, you’ll be equipped to model good financial habits for your little one all throughout their life – and that’s a big win.
As always, we’re here to help with the financial stuff (but not the diapers, unfortunately).