- A series of money experts have shared their top advice for expecting parents
- They suggested saving in advance and starting a separate account for the baby
- They added that it’s important to be tactical about what you put on your registry
It’s no secret that having a baby can be extremely expensive, and couples often struggle with determining whether or not they’re ready to expand their family due to the financial burden it can have on them.
Thankfully, a series of financial advisors have revealed just how much money parents should have saved up before they have a baby – and shared some vital advice for expecting moms and dads who want to ensure their kids have funds for their futures.
According to the experts, it’s important to start planning long before the baby is born – even if that means making some sacrifices.
‘One common mistake new parents make is waiting until their baby arrives to change their spending and saving habits,’ Courtney Alev – the director of product and consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma, from San Francisco, California – explained to the New York Post recently.
She added that many people who are getting ready to expand their families tend to treat themselves with glamorous trips or lavish meals because they’re worried they won’t get to do those things once the baby arrives.
But she warned against it, explaining that cutting back now can lead to a much richer life in the future for you and your kids.
‘It may be tempting to squeeze in things like traveling and dinners out before the baby is born, but it’s important that doing fun things doesn’t lead to accruing debt,’ she continued.
‘That may mean you need to do things like make a budget and chip away at paying off debts now.’
Celia Karam, president of a Capital One bank in Arlington, Virginia, agreed with this sentiment, and insisted that ‘it’s never too early’ to start planning for your child’s future.
But starting well in advance and cutting back on frivolous spending aren’t the only steps that parents can take to make having a baby easier on them financially.
According to the money-saving experts, here are their top tips that will help moms and dads-to-be prepare for their exciting new arrival.
Make a plan and do it as far in advance as possible
Financial therapist and author Joyce Marter, from Florida, explained to the publication that simply having a plan in place can make all the difference.
She suggested making time to sit down with your partner to figure out how much you both make, what your expenses will be, and how much you can put aside each month for your children.
She said do it as far in advance as possible so you have as much time as possible to make any necessary changes to your spending habits.
The certified therapist added that if the task feels too overwhelming, you can always enlist an advisor to help.
‘Financial planners help you create a budget and financial plan for the short-term, such as managing healthcare costs and any loss of income during maternity/paternity leave,’ Joyce dished.
Start a separate savings account and take advantage of HSAs
According to Celia, expecting parents should start a separate savings account for the money that will go towards the new baby rather than just keeping it in their normal checking account.
She said that can help you figure out how much you have saved – and will prevent any ‘temptations’ you might have to spend the money on other stuff.
‘Set aside a certain amount from each paycheck to go directly to your savings, so there is no temptation to spend it,’ she suggested.
‘Schedule these transfers with an automatic savings plan so you regularly pay yourself first and keep on track toward your savings goal.’
She pointed out that putting even the smallest bit away adds up over time, so even if you don’t have a lot, don’t get discouraged.
She also said it’s important to take advantage of savings accounts that earn interest over time – as well as HSAs.
An HSA, also known as a health savings account, is ‘a type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses,’ according to HealthCare.Gov.
‘By using untaxed dollars in an HSA to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you may be able to lower your out-of-pocket health care costs,’ it explained.
Celia added, ‘Take advantage of products with no minimum balance requirements and eliminate costly fees like overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees.’
As for how much money you should have saved before the baby arrives, Courtney suggested having at least ‘three to six’ times what you normally spend every month on expenses.
Be thoughtful about what you put on your baby registry
Another piece of advice from Courtney is to be thoughtful about what you put on your registry when it comes time for your baby shower.
Getting gifts from loved ones could be a great way for you to stock up on vital supplies, so be smart about what you ask for.
‘Small outfits and toys are fun, but a gift card can buy things like diapers and baby formula, which adds up quickly,’ she said.
Don’t get hit with staggering medical bills after the birth
Joyce said it’s important to make sure the hospital you’ve chosen is in-network with your insurance company so that you’re not hit with shocking medical bills after giving birth.
She encouraged expecting mothers to reach out to their insurance companies to go over all the costs beforehand, so they know exactly what they’ll be paying.
She added that they should also ask about potential ‘benefits’ that might be offered to new parents, since she’s seen so many people ‘not take full advantage of the resources available to them.’
‘Ask your insurance provider if there are any special maternity or new baby benefits or coverages available. Learn about your out-of-pocket costs,’ suggested the expert.
‘Consult HR about programs available for new parents. They may include leave of absence benefits or EAP services.’