When planning for your baby’s future, your instinct might be to focus on saving money for college expenses.
However, if you are planning far enough in advance — before you have any children or soon after you start your family — you should consider saving for your child’s immediate future, first. After all, babies and children are expensive before they even make it through high school.
The expenses of parenthood begin at birth.
A study by Truven Health Analytics found that, on average, insured parents paid $2,244 for a natural delivery and $2,669 for a cesarean. These costs do not incorporate all of the hospital charges and prenatal visits. Depending on your specific health care plan (deductible and out-of-pocket expenses), you could pay between $5,000 and $12,000 to bring a baby into the world.
Furthermore, once a baby is born, monthly health care premiums are likely to increase along with the deductible and out-of-pocket expenses.
Parents should also factor in the potential salary loss from missing work once the baby is born. According to Forbes, the U.S. is one of two countries in the world that does not mandate that companies offer paid maternity leave. (Fun fact: the other is Papa New Guinea). Although three states mandate paid family leave and some employers offer it despite a lack of governmental requirement, only 12 percent of U.S. workers in the private sector can receive paid family leave through their employer.
As a result, many parents adjust to parenthood while living on half the family’s normal salary and facing a looming hospital bill. That doesn’t take into account expenses including diapers, clothes, baby gear and toys.
“The average middle-income family will spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year,” according to Parenting.com.
In fact, parents spend nearly $50 each week ($2.448 each year) on diapers, formula and baby food alone. Some parents receive big-ticket items from a baby shower or from hand-me-downs, but others will end up paying for expensive cribs, car seats, swings and more.
And if both parents return to work, they will likely need to find often expensive child care for the baby.
“The cost of child care varies widely across states and the cost of living in each state also affects the affordability of childcare for families,” according to Child Care Aware of America.
Babies don’t cost less as they grow.
Child care is an expense that many parents will pay until their children reach kindgergarten. Some continue to pay for years beyond that, depending on their work schedules.
Likewise, health care premiums, higher deductibles and out-of-pocke expenses will persist after the first year.
Parents should also consider the costs of other big-ticket items that will become necessary later in your child’s life, such as braces. The cost of a straight smile varies depending on the type of braces and your insurance coverage. Kool Smiles estimates that traditional metal braces can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 and ceramic braces have an average cost ranging from $4,000 to $8,000.
Furthermore, your child may be interested in extracurricular activities or hobbies as he or she grows. Joining a sports team can require purchasing expensive equipment and uniforms, while playing music can mean buying a costly instrument.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Welcoming a baby is exciting — but it can also be overwhelming. Don’t feel you have to figure out your financial situation alone. Ask questions, do research and be prepared to afford your child’s future.
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