Financial Planning For New Parents
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The world looks different when you're holding a new little life in your arms. Finances may take a back seat to excitement, but it's important to begin thinking early about how starting a family will affect your goals and budget. The vision you and your spouse create for your family's future will dictate many of your next financial steps.
Communicate — Early and Often
Talking with your spouse about your financial goals may not seem like a part of family planning, but according to financial counselor Matt Becker, founder of the website Mom and Dad Money, it's of paramount importance. When you consider how much your financial decisions affect and reflect your lifestyle choices, it's hard to disagree. "The single best thing you can do is communicate regularly with your spouse or partner," Becker advises. "Have conversations about the kind of life you want and how you want to use your money to build it. These conversations will keep you on the same page and allow you to make meaningful financial decisions."
Baby in the Budget
You can start making room for baby in your budget after you and your spouse have hashed out the lifestyle you want as a family. Short-term, you'll want to look into the parental leave available to you both after your child is born and how well it meshes with your desires. If one parent plans to take unpaid leave, it's a good idea to start a "baby leave" account to hold a large part of your disposable income through the time of the baby's birth. The account can transition into a day care fund as your child gets older. Longer term, you might want to start saving for a home with a big back yard, or open a college account. These items alter your couple's budget and will continue to do so for years to come.
Insuring Your Family's Future
Insurance is your best friend when you're a new parent, and the sooner you get it, the better you'll sleep. Acquire good health insurance as early as possible. It should cover not only the mother's time in the hospital, but as many procedures and contingencies as possible — the baby's early care as well.
Both parents should take out term life insurance as soon as possible. The general rule is to get coverage equal to 10 times the family's annual income. Stay-at-home parents need coverage as well to account for day care expenses in the event of that parent's death. Lastly, for new moms: buy life insurance early in the pregnancy because it's harder to find an affordable policy after the first trimester.
Enjoy Today and Plan for Tomorrow
Becker warns new parents not to ignore the value of protection, so take time to schedule a visit with your attorney while you're tossing about favorite names or putting together that stroller. You'll want to change legal documents like wills and trusts to include the new child. Though the law makes some provisions for children born after you write a will, you shouldn’t leave this important matter to chance.
You may also want to purchase a disability policy to ensure that your family has an income stream no matter what life may throw at you. An experienced lawyer can help you sort through your options.