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.
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.
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.