Did you know that the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,6101? If that number caught you by surprise, you aren't alone. Deciding that you are ready to add a new addition to your family is very exciting, but it means that you are signing up for a hefty price tag. To help determine if you are in the right financial place to have a baby ask yourself these four questions first.
1. How Much Is In Your Savings?
Often times when someone decides that they are ready to have a baby they only consider the costs of baby supplies and diapers, but they tend forget the expenses leading up to the birth. When you first have a baby you'll have to pay for a lot of things upfront. Insurance aside, there are expenses that insurance won't cover that you will need to be ready to pay out-of-pocket for. From pregnancy to delivery costs, you should determine whether your savings is sufficient to cover expenses that insurance doesn’t cover. Take a look at your savings and see if you would feel comfortable covering those expenses from the pregnancy and birth. If you are in a financial place where you would feel fine doing that, then you are at a good starting point.
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2. How Will You Handle Childcare?
Are you going going to stay home with the baby? Are you going to take five years off of work until the child is old enough to go to school? Are you going to put your child in daycare so you can go back to work sooner? These are all questions that you need to consider before you have a baby because the answer to these questions can have a tremendous impact on your finances. If you are planning on sending your child to daycare or an early education center so that you can continue working, you should plan to spend at least $6,000 out-of-pocket annually, or about $500 a month2. If you don't want to send your child to daycare you'll also need to consider the financial impacts of working less due to caring for your child. Make sure you ask yourself if you can realistically live off of less income.
3. Have You Paid Off Your Debt?
Having your debt paid off or in a manageable place is essential if you want to bring a new addition to your family. When you have a child, your expenses will be higher than normal, so the last thing you need is to have monthly debt payments ontop of your new expenses. If you aren't in a good place with paying off your debt, having a baby will only make a rough financial situation worse. However, don't let your debt prevent you from adding to your family. Instead, do your best to address your debt before you have a baby so that you are in a better financial place for when the baby arrives. However, paying off all your debt by the time you want to have a baby may not be realistic. If you are in still in debt when you want to have a baby, that's okay. Just make sure you do your best to tackle the majority of your debt ahead of time.
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4. How Much Of Your Pay Are You Saving?
Having money set aside in your savings to pay for out-of-pocket baby related costs is key, but it's also important to ask yourself how much of your income are you putting in your general savings regularly? If you haven't been a habitual saver thus far, now is the time to start if you want to add to your family. Expenses will only continue to add up. From paying for diapers to paying for college, you'll want saving to be second nature for you to help cover the costs of raising a child. A good rule of thumb is to save a minimum of 20% of your income3. Having your general savings well established, separate from your savings for your child, will give you a good buffer for expenses down the road that you'll need to cover.
Take The Next Step
If having a child is something you want to plan for in the near future, consider speaking with a CFS* financial advisor to check your financial status. Meeting with a CFS* financial advisor can help you determine what you need to do in order to reach your goal of being able to financially afford having a child. Even better, you can get your free financial review to see if having a child right now makes sense for your financial goals!
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