How to Financially Prepare for a Baby
There's no two ways about it - babies are expensive. Budgeting for a baby doesn't have to be overly complicated, but it does require thoughtful planning. While the joy that each new addition will bring to your family is invaluable, recognizing and preparing early for the costs should help you focus your attention on your burgeoning family and not on your shrinking wallet.
Conception and Early Pregnancy
You'll need to budget first and foremost for health care coverage. For many families, this simply means the out-of-pocket expenses you'll pay as you begin your pregnancy journey - doctors' fees, lab tests, ultrasounds and more. Prior to getting pregnant, or as early in your pregnancy as possible, take a careful look at your insurance coverage. If you need to change coverage, doing so before conception may be easier than after.
First Trimester Costs
After your initial conception and early pregnancy costs, don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. The first trimester might be the least expensive portion of your pregnancy. You've already paid your initial health care costs. You probably haven't purchased maternity clothes yet, and you probably haven't reached the phase of your pregnancy where you'll be stocking up on pricey baby necessities.
That doesn't mean you can become lax financially, though. Instead, use these initial weeks of pregnancy to carefully set aside any extra money you have available, augmenting whatever you already have in savings. Your most expensive times are still looming ahead, and offsetting the shock of coming costs by setting aside funds now can prevent panic later.
Second Trimester Costs
By the time you reach 12 weeks of pregnancy, it's probably right about the time you'll let everyone know about your coming bundle of joy. This is also the time you will probably need to begin to expand your wardrobe. Be careful, though, as maternity clothing can be expensive, and you may need to change sizes several times during your pregnancy.
During your second trimester, you'll also have several significant health care moments. There's in-depth testing if you opt for procedures like genetic analysis or amniocentesis, and your 20-week anatomy ultrasound is that super-special time when you might find out your baby's gender, as well. Again, planning for these costs early on can ensure you can enjoy this magical time instead of stressing out.
Third Trimester and Birth
During your last trimester, the two areas where you'll spend the most money are, again, health care and necessities for your baby. If you have generous family and friends, many of your baby needs might be met through baby showers or hand-me-downs. Inevitably, you'll still need to do some stocking up on your own, including diapers, post-pregnancy clothing and hygiene items for yourself. But remember that these expenses can add up quickly. For example, according to RealDiapers.org, "disposable diapers cost about $62.50 per month, $750 per year, or $1,500 over the full time a child is in diapers."
Be careful not to get carried away as your maternal brain gets caught up in nesting. Keep a lid on costs by avoiding the urge to go shopping, and instead make lists of what you think you really need. Remember, there will be additional health care costs for you and your baby very soon, and that means avoiding unnecessary purchases to avoid future financial stress.
Congratulations on your expanding family, as well as your decision to approach budgeting for a baby so thoughtfully. The real fun is just beginning, but you're off to a great start!