10 Steps to Take Before Having a Baby

Whether you are out-to-here pregnant, or you’re just mulling over the idea of having a baby, there are a few things you should do to prepare yourself financially for a baby.  Most people will tell you that you can never be completely financially ready for a baby, but really, you can never really be completely prepared for all the poop, pee, and spit-up that comes along with a new baby but there’s no harm in trying, right?

Here are ten steps you should take to prepare yourself financially before having a baby:

1.    Do a big money review.  Sit down with your partner do a review of the overall status of your finances.  Are you bringing in as much money as you should? Are you saving for retirement? You’ll do this for two reasons: You want to be as financially prepared as possible before the baby comes, and because you probably won’t be able to sit down for a quiet conversation for a couple years after the baby is born.

2.    Pay your bills down.  If you have a lot of debt – especially revolving debt – now is the time to pay it down as much as possible.  The less money you have to spend each month in debt payments after the baby is born, the better.

3.    Save up some money.  If you already have a substantial amount of money in savings then you should concentrate on paying your debt down, but if you don’t have much money squirreled away then you need to work on getting a nest egg in place.

4.    Figure out if one income is feasible.  You may have the full intention of both partners returning to work after the baby is born, but sometimes plans can change.  Maybe health issues with the baby or mom will force one person to stay home, or maybe one of you will have a nervous breakdown when you try to leave your precious angel at a daycare center for the first time.  Either way, figure out what you need to do if circumstances result in one person staying home with the baby instead of working.

5.    Get your living situation ready.  If you live in a small studio apartment or in your parents’ basement, now is the time to get more appropriate living quarters.  Trying to pack up and move into a new place with a new baby is hard enough, but it’s financially easier before the baby comes too.

6.    Get your automobile situation ready.  If you have a two-seater sports car, or a car that has a wicked propensity toward breaking down at the most inopportune times, you’ll want to get this situation taken care of before your baby comes along.  In a perfect world you’ll have a relatively spacious and completely functional car to bring baby home from the hospital.

7.    Take a look at how much stuff costs.  New parents deal with a lot of sticker shock after the baby is born.  It will help if you actually take a look at how much daycare, diapers, and all the other necessary expenses cost before the baby comes along, and preferably before you even conceive.  You need to know what you’re going to be up against.

8.    Get your medical insurance squared away.  Having a baby is expensive.  If your medical insurance doesn’t cover the cost of labor and delivery then you should find this out long before the first contraction!

9.    Lay off the expensive habits.  Sure, right now it’s no problem to stop for coffee every day and to pick up a new DVD each week, but once the baby comes along these habits may become financial burdens instead of quirky habits.  It’s best to eliminate these habits before the baby is born.

10.    Adopt cheaper stuff.  Start getting into the habit of cooking at home, walking instead of driving, and checking books out from the library instead of buying them new at the bookstore.  If you can make frugal decisions like these second nature then it won’t be as tough to make the switch after the baby is born.

Babies are awesome blessings, but they’re also really, really expensive additions to the family.  If you can be somewhat financially ready for a new baby then maybe the process will be a little bit easier to deal with in the early stages when you’re already stressed out by the sleep deprivation.

10 thoughts on “10 Steps to Take Before Having a Baby”

  1. Great post. My Fiancee and I are looking to start a family in 4-6 years, so it is good we are on track. We seem to be tackling everything you have listed fairly well.

  2. Lately, reading financial blogs only serves to depress me more :).

    Because, it’s come to a point where I’m already doing everything in the suggestions that apply to my situation.

    I go down through your list here and just keep thinking: did that, did that, doing that, I don’t do that so I can’t stop doing it, etc.

    At at the end of the day, I’m still broke. :(

    I guess it boils down to the magic recipe of personal finance: Save more or Make more. But the latter is far easier said than done. :(

  3. Great post. My husband and I are totally in this mindset. We don’t want to start a family until we’ve paid off all of our consumer debt (about 8K), and bumped up our emergency fund. Sometimes I have a little bit of baby fever (we’re 24 and 25, so we still have time), but remind myself that we really don’t want the time, money, and attention spent worrying about paying these debts off to detract from the joy and excitement of having a new baby. First things first.

  4. Baz: I hear you! I’m working on a post that will hopefully give you a couple of ideas for making some extra money on the side. Try not to let things get you down too much – keep reading the PF blogs and stay focused. It will pay off in the end, I promise!

  5. Sarah: Good call – at 24 you’re still a baby yourself :) Well, not quite – but as you say you’ve still got plenty of time.

    I think you’re right on about getting your finances in order first – that way you’ll be able to enjoy parenthood all the more.

    Best of luck – it sounds like you’ll make a great Mom!

  6. “pay your bills down”? what does that actually mean? I’ve never heard that expression in my life and have spent most of it in some kind of debt. As someone who has NEVER posted a reply in a thread I have to say that this article is a complete waste of time and an inane omnibus repeat of advice we all should know but, for reasons of our own, do not follow. I loathe myself for posting as much as you should.

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