The decision to have a child is complicated by all kinds of things, from family matters to work, but few things affect how people feel about having children more than their finances. You’ll hear things like,
“We don’t have the money to have a kid!”
“Babies are so expensive! Who can afford one?”
“Have you SEEN how much diapers cost?”
While money is certainly not the most important thing in the world, couples are right to think about how they will provide for their new baby. Financial matters can put extra strain on a relationship, and can make it harder to give a baby the life it deserves. However, too many couples worry about money long after they need to, and it can keep them from starting their family.
We’ve compiled some tips on how to know if you’re financially ready for a baby, so you and your loved one can stop worrying so much and start thinking about baby names (Although we all know you probably have a few picked out already, even if it is secretly!):
1. You’ve set aside an emergency fund.
Most people know that you’re supposed to have an emergency fund, but they haven’t quite put this plan into action. Most experts suggest putting at least 3 months of your total expenses, although others suggest being truly well-prepared requires at least six. When you think about your total expenses, think about everything. That includes rent (or mortgage), food, all utilities, gas, personal items like soap and shampoo, and anything else you spend money on in the average month.
If you’re not sure how much you spend, total up everything, from checks written to credit card swipes, in a month. Then, multiply that number by whatever you want to set aside. This fund will help in case you or your partner lose a job, or if you have unexpected medical insurance.
2. You’re working your way out of debt, if you have any.
This one is not easy, and if you wait to have a child until you’re debt-free, you probably won’t ever have one! Instead, start increasing your monthly payments a little bit at a time on credit card debt, student loan debt, or a car payment. If you have a clear plan to pay the debt off and stick with it, and you know you can still provide for your child, you will be okay. However, if you have thousands of dollars hanging over your head, and no way to pay it off, it is probably not the right time for a child.
3. You’ve planned for mom and baby.
Everyone talks about buying things for baby, but nobody talks about buying things for mom. The truth is, maternity clothes from reputable retailers like snugglenado.com are as much of a need as diapers, and as you prepare financially, you should budget for them. Skinny jeans rarely fit after the first couple of months.
You should also make sure you’re discussing what you do and don’t need for your child. If there’s a gadget you really want but can’t afford, consider asking for it as a shower gift. Remember, parenting is less about spending money on the baby and more about spending time with them, and they don’t need every new toy on the market to think you’re amazing.
4. You have a little money left over every month.
By the time you decide to have a child, you should have your budget down to a science, and know what money is coming in and out of the house. You should also, ideally, have money left over each month that could go to the baby, for diapers and formula and other day to day needs. If not, look at your other expenses and decide if there are things you can cut. You might consider pricey cable packages or a few nights out a month.
Remember, nobody ever has the perfect financial situation to have a baby, but if you plan it right, you can buy diapers, set money aside, and still pay all your household bills. Ultimately, the only one who can tell you when you’re ready for your new bundle of joy is you, but hopefully thinking about these financial tips will prepare you to make that day a reality sooner than you think!