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What to Budget for as a New Parent

Expectant parents can plan ahead for a baby’s arrival by budgeting for the coming costs. Here’s a list of what to budget for that goes beyond the basics of diapers and baby clothes. 

Taking Time Off
If you’re employed, check if your employer offers maternity leave to allow you to continue getting a regular paycheck. If not, ask what their leave policy is and take steps to cover your income gap. You might be able to use sick days or vacation time. 

Some states have paternity leave laws requiring employers to provide paid leave to employees. California, for example, pays new parents 60 – 70 percent of their wages for up to six weeks. 

Set Up a Budget
As part of the budgeting for all of the new things your baby will need, set up a household budget if you don’t already have one. 

Whether or not you’re getting paid paternity leave, start an emergency fund with the goal of having enough money in it to pay your bills for six months, in case you get laid off. It can also be used to fund unexpected costs of raising a child, such as babysitting and extra doctor visits. 

Extra Medical Costs
Check with your insurer to see how much it pays for giving birth. You may be surprised and find that the cost is low. Also, plan on many prenatal doctor visits and plenty of visits to your pediatrician during the child’s first year. 

This can also be a good time to reevaluate your health insurance coverage. Switching to a low-deductible plan and starting a flexible spending account or health care savings account can be wise moves. Having a child is a qualifying event that allows you to change your health insurance plan through your employer, so take the time to review your options. 

Child Care Costs
If you’re going back to work a few weeks or months after your child is born, find out  how much child care will cost. It varies by how many children you have and where they’ll stay. Having a nanny come to your home may be the most expensive option. The Economic Policy Institute has a drop-down menu on its website that details how much child care costs in each state.