5 Important Questions to Ask Before Adding to Your Family
"Can we even afford one?"
This question was the first my husband and I asked ourselves when we had the big baby discussion. Romantic, right? But in reality, finances play an important role in moving from a two-person household to three (or more). So, while a lot of the baby-making process is fun and games, here are some items to consider and situations to plan for before making that jump into parenthood.
1. What Is Your Budget?
Before anything else, we took time to write out our budget in full. After every single last fixed and variable expense was accounted for, we compared that number to our take-home income. You'll find a wide range of figures for how much a child costs per year ranging from "only your time and love" to $12,000 or more, depending on a number of factors (location, lifestyle, etc.). When we saw what was left over, we got a good idea that adding a child would be doable. We also found areas of our budget that had room to change and free up money for diapers, food, baby gear, and much more. (See also: 10 Things You Don't Actually Need to Buy For Your New Baby)
2. Who Will Care for the Baby?
Wrapped up in those yearly costs for taking care of your child is daycare. You'll want to take many personal and practical factors into consideration when making the choice. We decided that much of my income would have been sucked up with childcare costs, so I opted to work part-time from home after calculating many scenarios from best to worst case. Some of you might have family willing to help out full or part-time. Others will rely on paid care exclusively.
While you're thinking, it's also a good idea to get in touch with your workplace to see how much time off you get after birth, as well as how much of this time is paid versus unpaid. Same goes with your spouse.
3. What Does Insurance Cover?
Health insurance was the next big piece of the pie. How much of my prenatal care would be covered? What about the birth and delivery? And even before all that, what about possible infertility coverage? (We're dealing with this detail the second time around.)
We are fortunate to have good insurance that paid for pretty much everything — ultrasounds (I needed many), blood tests, delivery, and follow-up. Beyond that, you'll be adding a dependent to your coverage, so your monthly premium might go up. Your child will also have well care visits often in the first year. Speak with your HR department or call your insurance company directly to get information on coverage, deductibles, copays, and any other concerns you might have.
4. Do You Have Space?
Take a look around your place. Some of you might be living in three to four bedroom houses. Others, studio apartments. The truth is, you can make most places work with one child using creative solutions from room sharing to compact closet bedrooms. If you don't think you have a good setup or — alternatively — would want to move anyway, you'll want to calculate a new rent or mortgage number into your budget to see how it shifts everything.
5. What About Other Stuff?
Beyond baby's first years, the costs can climb. Things like preschool tuition, extracurricular activities, college savings accounts, and even unexpected medical expenses.
Our daughter had a medical issue that required major surgery in her second year of life, and no one could have expected or planned for that. Though insurance took care of the heaviest expenses, like a $100,000 hospital bill, we have paid deductibles for countless doctor appointments and follow-ups. (She's doing great now, by the way.) Most situations like these are unusual and likely not to be of concern. At the same time, if your budget or job is shaky, you might want to try and stabilize things before adding another variable to the equation.
What other questions did you ask before adding to your family?
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