Preparing for your baby’s arrival, can be one of the most exciting and, dare I say, stressful times in our lives.
One of the greatest financial stress points is the vulnerability of losing a salary whilst on maternity leave…not to mention the anticipation of how much a baby will cost?
These tips below can hopefully alleviate some of that stress and get you on your path to focus on enjoying your pregnancy and parenthood.
So how much does a baby cost?
It can vary greatly, and essentially comes down to your ‘wish list’.
Your wish list can extend from the essentials for your baby, and the furniture and pram you want, to whether you opt for private or public care. It can also include whether you are planning to return to work and if so, when?
As with all things, the reality is that the more prepared you are, the more likely you are going to have the things on your wish list as well as your desired experience during this exciting milestone (financially, that is!).
Throughout this article, I have broken down the pre and post-baby planning stages, and the major factors you should be considering and planning for.
Now that you are pregnant, here are some factors that you should be
1. It’s time to get that budget in order and be disciplined about it!
This will be your maker or breaker in regards to covering the costs of a baby and having a sense of financial freedom throughout the journey, so save, save, SAVE!
You can download a budget planner from Money Mode which will help you understand your family’s expenses. It’s important to have a really clear picture on where your money is going/needs to go.
It’s also really important to work out your desired savings goals, considering the amount required to cover living expenses with potential loss of one salary for your maternity leave period, costs of big purchases and some emergency savings for the unexpected.
2. Review any loans and debts that you have.
Getting rid of credit card and personal loan debt and searching for low interest rates has never been more important. Consider extra repayments and whether options like interest only might be appropriate for you during your period of maternity leave. It is worthwhile speaking to a financial adviser and a mortgage broker (if you are a home owner) early to understand your best options and the implications of making any changes.
3. Start your major purchases ‘wish list’ and keep your eye out for sales.
It can be extremely tempting to spend a small fortune on setting up for a baby so consider what you really need and what is most important to invest in. To save extra cash, you can try borrowing, hiring, or buying second-hand. Be aware that many baby retailers usually price match, so do you research and shop around to keep your costs down.
4. Understand your company’s maternity/paternity leave policies as well as any government support you are entitled to.
Speak with your Human Resources department to understand your entitlements and to work out a plan for your parental leave. Most companies require you to have been employed for 12 months to become entitled to maternity/paternity leave. Some companies offer a period of employer- paid maternity leave and this will be stipulated in your employment contract.
Fairwork Ombudsmen is a great resource to understand your leave entitlements:
The Department of Human Services are a great resource to understand government support you may be entitled to: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/parental-leave-
5. Medical and Delivery Costs.
If you are choosing the public hospital option, medical and delivery costs will be much less. However, if you do opt for private care, make sure that you understand the costs at all stages of your pregnancy and delivery.
Check with your Health Fund as to what they cover and ask for a detailed schedule from your chosen obstetrician. Be aware that some require a pre-delivery payment, delivery payment, hospital stay costs, scans etc. Don’t get caught out with any unexpected surprises. You may also incur extras depending on your circumstances such as paediatrician, anaesthetist, special care nursery etc, so it is important to understand these extra costs when choosing your hospital.
6. Automated payments and spending allowances.
Once you’re close to your due date, make sure that you have set up automatic payments for your regular expenses and a spending allowance. This will cause you less stress during the early (and hazy) days of the post-baby stage knowing that your finances are taken care of.
Here’s a great guide that will help you automate your money in four easy steps:
7. Commence your application for paid parental leave through Centrelink (if you are eligible).
By completing the application prior to your baby’s birth, it’s one less thing you will need to worry about, will improve the assessment time of your application and will allow you to be back-paid to the date of your baby’s birth. To complete the application, you will need a myGov account linked to Centrelink. For more information visit https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/parental-leave-pay
These wise words are from Renae Vercoe, the founder of Money Mode.
Money mode is all about breaking down the barriers to financial advice, making it more accessible, more affordable and more meaningful, it caters for people at any starting point on their journey.