Diaper bags, books, tiny outfits, adorable plush toys … oh, the cute things you can buy in preparation for a baby’s arrival. Unfortunately, the cost of those fun accessories is nothing compared to the necessities you’ll need to save for.
That’s why it’s crucial to come up with a budget before you start splurging. A good place to begin is with some of the costs that can’t be listed on a baby registry.
Those medical bills can really add up, even with great insurance plans. Prenatal care is likely to involve co-pays, and there could be out-of-pocket costs for some tests (genetic screening, for instance) that may not be covered by insurance for certain patients. The cost of the birth itself is something to plan for, as well. The average cost of a vaginal delivery with no complications in the U.S. is $3,035 — and that’s the doctor’s fee alone. The hospital will have its own charges, and it’s likely you’ll have to come up with at least a partial out-of-pocket payment. Consult your doctors and hospital as early as you can, so you know what kind of number to expect.
Home and Auto
Another really big-ticket item to consider is your home and transportation. Does your home allow enough room for a baby plus newborn gear? Three will be a crowd in a studio apartment, especially after six months or so when you might be ready to move your bundle of joy into his or her own space. If possible, try to wrap up home-buying, moving and any renovations before the baby is born. Give consideration to your transportation, too. Will you need to buy a car or factor in some other way to get around (Lyft rides to the pediatrician’s office, for instance) once your family grows?
It’s serious adulting, and may feel a bit morose to plan for while you’re expecting, but it’s important to put a will (and any other related financial arrangements) in place. This ensures your child is cared for by the people you would choose, should anything happen to you. You’ll designate someone as the child’s physical guardian, and someone to manage property and money for them (it can be the same person) until they become legal adults. Without a will, there’s no guarantee about your child’s care and how your property and assets are distributed. Although you don’t necessarily need an attorney for this, it can be a daunting task, and there are many family attorneys who offer services for straightforward wills at a reasonable cost. So even though it might be the last thing you want to spend money on, look into it now.
Treat saving for your maternity or paternity leave like you would an emergency fund. The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, but your employer’s specific program and the time you’d like to be home with the baby might not align exactly. Having savings that cover the difference will allow you more flexibility should you need it.
Good news: There are some fun budget line items, too. While a lot can be purchased after the baby is born, having a few items on hand will ease your transition from hospital to home. Definitely plan to spend what’s required to ensure you have a sleeping arrangement in place before the baby’s born. Whether it’s a bassinet or co-sleeper to begin, or the crib they’ll sleep in until they’re ready for a bed, make sure you’ve got at least one option ready. Monitors are also pricey but worth the peace of mind for many new parents. Getting your baby from point A to B is going to require an investment, too, whether it’s in a stroller, car seat, baby carrier, or all of the above.
Finally, put some cash aside for unanticipated extras, like supplies for nursing or bottle-feeding, along with lovies, blankets and toys. The journey to parenthood is expensive, but worth it.