Diary of a CFP® Pro — May: Hello, baby! Creating a financial plan for your growing family
This month’s insight from Marguerita Cheng, CFP® Pro: The arrival of Spring, for many, means the appearance of a new baby (it was for me). What an exciting time! However, it can require planning and preparation as you consider what to expect when you’re expecting financially.
Reality check: Babies are cute, loveable, exciting, and expensive. But it’s important to know what you might encounter before and after the baby is born. Preparing financially for a baby before it’s delivered is the best way to ensure a smooth transition and gain financial confidence.
- Before the Baby Arrives: Babies cost money before making their appearance. Medical expenses are significant expenses right from the start. You’ll need a checkup to ensure you don’t have underlying conditions that might impact your pregnancy, and you’ll schedule many prenatal appointments after you conceive. Start by carefully reviewing your health insurance. Do you have prenatal coverage? What about labor, delivery and hospital costs, and newborn care? Make sure you understand your deductible, copayments, medical products, processes, procedures, and facilities your insurance covers. Also, consider the effect of having a baby on your employment. If you’re currently employed, think about how much maternity or paternity leave you’ll take. Talk to your employer about when you plan to return to work and whether you’ll receive compensation during your leave.
- Look at Your Pre-Baby Budget: Before you become pregnant or during the early months of your pregnancy, look closely at your budget. Add your anticipated medical costs to your spending plan, including copays and out-of-pocket expenses for prenatal care, testing, labor and delivery, hospital and newborn care. Other potential needs might include childbirth classes or a lactation consultant. It’s a good idea to save now for the essential items that a baby might need.
- On the list: Diapers, Infant formula, a breast pump (get a good one!), a crib, stroller, car seat, and diaper bag (a backpack works). Focus on the necessary items first, such as diapers and a car seat.
- Well-meaning friends and relatives may push gadgets and accessories that might be nice but that might be expensive. Start with the basics and plan for the cost of the more costly items.
- Plan for Emergencies: It’s impossible to know what to expect when you’re preparing financially for a baby 100% of the time. Life is unpredictable, and emergencies, accidents, and unforeseen events can happen—plan for the worst by building up an emergency fund to protect your finances. Your emergency fund can cover unexpected medical bills, long-term hospital stays, therapy for postpartum depression, and incidental services that can threaten to throw your budget off. The last thing you want is financial worries when you’re already stressed and anxious about medical decisions or unexpected occurrences.
- Budget for Childcare: Childcare is another substantial expense to consider when you’re expecting. Think about your plans after birth. Will one parent stay home to care for the baby, or will you need to budget for childcare services? According to a 2020 childcare survey from Care.com, childcare’s average weekly cost is $215 for daycare and $565 for a nanny. That is more than $11,000 per year for daycare and nearly $30,000 per year for a nanny. Whichever option you choose, it could account for a substantial portion of one parent’s salary. Even if you ask grandma or another relative to watch the baby, you’ll need to have a backup if your primary caregiver is ill or unavailable.
- Invest in Health Insurance: Delivering your baby and ensuring its health is just the beginning of what to expect when you’re preparing financially for a baby. Now you have a new mouth to feed, body to clothe, and person to care for — and it’s not cheap. In an Expenditures on Children by Families report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, middle-income families spent between $12,350 and $13,900 annually per child from birth. You may also see an increase in insurance costs:
- Insurance premiums can go up when adding a child to the plan.
- Your policy may require you to meet a separate deductible for your child.
- Disability Insurance: You’ll want to revisit your life and disability insurance coverage to account for your new child. Sit down and make a list to review the numbers. If your budget doesn’t look as good as you had hoped, think about changes you can make. You might go out to eat less, reduce spending on clothes, cut back subscriptions, and spend less on entertainment.
The bottom line: Adding a new member to your family is a beautiful event. It also comes with a lengthy list of responsibilities. When you prioritize your spending and savings goals to make room for the baby, you’ll set your family up for financial success for years to come.
Stay tuned for next month’s installment of Diary of a CFP® Pro!
Photo by RikRoK Yu castro, flickr.com creative commons
About Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP® Pro: Rita is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She has also been a spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. Previously, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an analyst and editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan.
Certifications: CFP® professional, Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, Retirement Income Certified Professional®, and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policymakers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination.
Awards: Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).
Rita volunteers for several organizations: CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings, she has also served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013-2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA).
Click here to learn more about Blue Ocean Global Wealth and here to email Marguerita!
Blue Ocean Global Wealth headquarters:
9841 Washingtonian Blvd., #200
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
301.502.5306 / 888.731.3117 (fax)