For many young couples, considering whether or not to have kids stirs up concerns about their ability to afford everything that comes with a new baby. From outfitting the baby’s room (even if you’re planning a DIY nursery) to mortgage-sized payments for childcare, the added expenses can feel incredibly daunting. Combine these financial concerns with the career and lifestyle choices that naturally come with starting a family, and the addition of children can be a shock to the system — so much so that the average age of new moms continues to climb from year to year.
The good news is that, similar to any big purchase, some open conversation (and hopefully agreement), as well as some advance planning about potential budget tradeoffs and goals for the future, will help minimize the financial sting of having kids. Here are six things you need to consider before expanding your family.
1. Timing: Are you and your spouse or partner on the same page about when you’d like to have kids? Are there any major financial hurdles, such as paying off credit card debt, that you’d like to complete before starting a family? Talk about these things and map out a plan for meeting your goals to avoid any additional stress.
2. Location: Do you share the same thoughts about how many children you’d like in your family? If you’d like more than one, consider what it might mean for the size of your home and, ultimately, where you live, as it could be helpful to be closer to family who may help with childcare, or in the suburbs (versus the city) where you can get more house for your money.
3. Childcare: Would one spouse prefer daycare and the other a nanny? A full-time nanny is typically double the cost of daycare for a single child. So, if you anticipate having multiple children or continuing jobs with lots of travel for each parent, a nanny may make more sense.
4. Education: Many financial experts will encourage couples to focus on saving for retirement first and education second, as the financial tools in place to borrow money for college are more accessible than borrowing money in retirement. That said, it’s helpful to talk to your spouse about the extent to which you’d like to save for your child’s education.
5. Lifestyle: What kind of lifestyle do you want to live as a family? Are you committed to all organic food and clothing? Would you like to go on regular family vacations? These decisions can have an impact on your finances and are helpful to build into your budget right from the start.
6. Savings: Children add a whole new line to your budget, from added food and clothing expenses to child care. So it may make sense to save for a year as if you’re planning on paying for major expenses such as childcare. Ramp up your savings over a few months to see how it might affect the way you live and prioritize expenses.
Keeping baby’s health and safety top of mind, along with some patience and mindfulness around how much to spend as baby arrives home, will go a long way. And don’t forget a few strategically scheduled (and budgeted) date nights and some extra sleep :)
Are you a new mom who swears by your baby budget hacks? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)