Starting a family or growing one can be exciting, but it can also be expensive. Here are some ways to prepare yourself financially.
Having a baby is a wonderful thing, but it can also mean big changes to your lifestyle and finances, particularly if you consider that parents with children under age 12 fork out around $18,200 a year on basic expenses1.
With that in mind, if you’re expecting a baby or planning on having one, here are some tips to help you budget and save.
Make sure you’re across medical expenses
Medical costs might include ultrasounds, birthing classes, special tests, vaccinations, and check-ups, so it’s worth jotting these down, so you’ve got an idea of everything that could be coming up.
You’ll also want to consider whether you want to have your baby in a public or private hospital, as there may be out-of-pocket expenses with either option, even if you have Medicare or private health insurance.
Many private health funds also have waiting periods before you can claim on pregnancy and birth-related costs, so if this is something you’re considering, you’ll want to look into this early.
Meanwhile, if you want your child to be covered under a health insurance policy, you may need to do some investigating, as a single or couple policy may need to be extended to a family policy.
Consider other upfront and ongoing costs
There are things you may need to buy before the baby arrives, in addition to other things you might need on an ongoing basis. This might include things like:
car seat and stroller
cot and mattress
change table and high chair
maternity clothes, baby clothes and baby bag
food, nappies, bottles and formula
Research your employer entitlements
Many organisations have their own parental leave policies, which may include various paid and unpaid parental leave entitlements for new mothers and fathers.
If you’re unsure, speak to your employer to see if there is a scheme in place and find out what they offer as part of this. At the same time, you may also want to find out if you’re eligible for any annual leave, long-service leave, or regular unpaid leave, if you’re planning to take time off work.
When you’re speaking to your employer, it may also be helpful to check the company policy around superannuation. Super generally isn’t paid when you’re on parental leave, so you might want to consider whether you’ll make additional contributions while you’re still working.
Explore the government’s paid parental leave scheme
With the paid parental leave scheme, primary carers of newborn or adopted children can apply for parental leave payments from the government, which provides the national minimum wage for up to 18 weeks2.
These payments can be received in addition to any payments your employer pays under its own parental leave policy, if you’re eligible.
You can also apply up to three months before your child’s due date, which may help you to better prepare for your time off, as you’ll be able to choose when your paid parental leave period starts3. For instance, you may choose to receive this money after you’ve received any employer payments you may be eligible for.
Investigate other government assistance options
Beyond the paid parental leave scheme, there’s a range of additional support options for families.
The Child Care Subsidy also provides assistance with childcare fees for eligible families. From 7 March 2022, families with more than one child aged five or under (in childcare) will also get a higher subsidy for their second child and younger children4.
For more information about payments and services to help with the cost of raising children, check out the Services Australia website. You may also be interested in whether you’re eligible for school subsidies.
Create a family budget with the information you’ve collected
After you’ve considered the expenses, as well as any entitlements you may be eligible for and how long you may take off work, it’s worth drawing up a budget and starting to put some money aside.
When you do this, take into account any existing day-to-day expenses you might have, such as utility bills, groceries, petrol, insurance, rent or home loan repayments, and other debts you might be paying off.
You may also want to factor in any additional sources of income (such as investments), and whether you have family that may be able to assist in helping you minimise expenses. For instance, they may provide babysitting for your children.
Prioritise your existing debts if you can
If you have existing debts, like credit cards, personal loans or a home loan, you may want to consider how you can reduce these debts as much as possible before the baby arrives, particularly as you may encounter other unexpected expenses along the way.
On top of making regular repayments, you might also look into:
Your credit and utility providers and whether you could be getting a better deal elsewhere
Consolidating your debts into one, if it means you’ll pay less in fees and interest charges
Whether you can pay off your home loan faster or refinance to reduce your loan payment amounts.
Consider your will and broader estate plan
If a little person is about to enter your life, who you want to take care of, thinking about your estate plan may also make good sense, noting this involves more than just drawing up a will.
It’ll include decisions around who will look after you, and your child, if you’re ever in a situation where you can’t make decisions for yourself, as well as documenting how you want your assets (which may include insurance and super) to be distributed should you pass away.
Remember that money isn’t everything
If it’s your first baby, while it may be tempting to invest in the most expensive pram, baby clothes, or day care centre for your little one, it’s the love for your child, not the amount you spend on them, that matters.
With that in mind, you could consider forgoing some non-essential baby items if you’re on a tight budget and also checking out second-hand items or things other family and friends may be happy to pass down. After all, babies grow quickly, so many second-hand items will often still be in near-to-new condition.
If you need more tips on budgeting for your family, call us on 08 6465 5400.
Source: AMP February 2022
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