5 steps to prepare your budget for a baby before she’s born?

With the arrival of your baby come a lot of things: happy emotions, love you didn’t think you could feel for another human being, new schedules, lots of gifts and, of course, new expenses.

The last thing you want to deal with when your baby arrives is financial stress. These five steps will help you prepare your budget now so you don’t have to worry about money while you’re enjoying life with your new baby.

1. Review your current finances.

It’s time to assess where you stand with your finances. Do you have debt to pay off? Do you have savings? What are your current assets? Having a clear idea of your financial life will allow you to set goals you can achieve before your baby is born.

2. Set specific goals.

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Once you’ve done a financial assessment, set some specific and attainable goals. Is there a certain amount of debt you want to pay off or money you want to save up before baby’s arrival? Write it down and then divide it by the number of months or weeks until your due date to figure out how much exactly you’ll need to put toward those goals.

Stay motivated by posting your goals somewhere you can see them every day.

3. Create a budget.

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In order to stay on track with your goals, create a budget. It doesn’t have to be a super detailed spreadsheet (although if that’s your thing, go for it), but having a goal will help you understand exactly where your money is going each month and ensure you don’t spend more than you earn. To be extra thorough, plan to create a budget in advance of every single month since, no two months are exactly the same in terms of expenses or even income, depending on your line of work. Be sure to include line items in your budget that are specific to your pre-baby goals.

As you work on your budget, take the opportunity to comb through your bank and credit card statements to see where you can cut back. Many of us have at least one $10-ish recurring charge we could cut (think: a subscription you haven’t used in months). Those smaller expenses can add up toward helping you achieve your financial goals faster.

4. Open a designated savings account.

Opening separate savings accounts for each financial goal (e.g., saving for a baby, saving for emergencies, long-term savings, etc.) will help you keep your finances organized and make it easier to track your progress toward your goals. Set up automatic deposits into each account on a monthly or per-paycheck basis (include these transfers in your budget). This way you won’t forget to save the money or spend it first.

5. Check in on your maternity leave, insurance coverage and other associated costs.

It’s important to understand the details of your maternity leave so you can prepare your finances for your time out of work. How long is your leave and how much of your salary will you be paid? If you’ll be paid less than 100% of your salary, plan to put some extra money aside to fill in the gap, and perhaps try to live on a reduced amount so you get used to it beforehand.

You’ll also want to check on your health insurance coverage. How much will be covered for a vaginal vs. C-section delivery? What’s covered in terms of a hospital stay? You’ll have peace of mind when you know what to expect.

One other tip!

Don’t shop till after your baby shower

It’s easy to get tempted to hit the shops and buy all those cute little baby things in preparation for your new arrival. But do your best to wait until after your baby shower to go shopping, because you’ll most likely get a lot of what you need at your shower and you can put the money you would have otherwise spent toward your goals.

The key to getting what you need is to register the right way—so be sure to look up online guides (like here on Motherly) and ask other moms. Think of including things like diapers in different sizes, wipes, burp cloths, a stroller, bouncer, etc. Once your shower is over, you can shop to your heart’s (and budget’s) content to fill in the gaps.

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The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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