Starting a family is an exciting time but it can also be an expensive one. Check out these nine financial tips from AMP to ensure you’re family-ready.
Amid the excitement and anticipation, if you’re about to start a family or are thinking about doing so, it’s a good idea to get across the upfront and ongoing costs that are likely to be coming your way.
After all, according to research, it costs an average of $144 a week to raise a child between the ages of zero and four, and that doesn’t take into account the potential amount you may be paying for childcare1.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips to get your finances in order.
9 money tips for expecting parents
1. Make sure you’re across any medical expenses
Medical costs may include doctor and hospital bills, scans, birthing classes and special medical tests.
Also think about whether you want to have your baby in a public or private hospital, as there may still 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 this is worth looking into if it’s something you’re considering.
Meanwhile, if you want your child to be covered under a health insurance policy, this is worth some investigation, as a single or couple policy may need to be extended to a family policy.
2. Consider other upfront and ongoing costs
These might include things like:
- car seat and stroller
- cot and mattress
- change table and high chair
- baby clothes and diaper bag
- food, nappies, bottles and formula
3. 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.
Check out whether your employer has such a scheme in place and what they offer. 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.
Meanwhile, superannuation is generally not paid when you’re on parental leave, so you may want to consider whether you’ll make additional contributions while you’re still working.
4. Explore the government’s paid parental leave scheme
If you meet criteria, primary carers of newborn or adopted children can apply for parental leave payments from the government, which provide 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.
5. Investigate other government assistance options
You may be entitled to other assistance such as Dad and Partner Pay3, which provides up to two weeks of government funded pay, and the Family Tax Benefit, which helps with the cost of raising children.
There are also a range of additional payments for families, such as assistance with child care fees that also may help. See the Department of Human Services website to find out more.
6. Create a budget with the information you’ve collected
Once you’ve considered the costs, any entitlements you may be eligible for and how long you may take off work, it’s important to set up a budget and start putting money aside.
When you do this, remember you’ll need to account for existing day-to-day expenses, such as utility bills, groceries, petrol, insurance, rent or home loan repayments, and other debts you may be paying off.
Remember to also factor in any additional sources of income you could be receiving and whether you have family that may be able to assist in helping you minimise expenses, such as childcare.
7. If you can, prioritise your existing debts
If you do have existing debts—credit cards, personal loans or a home loan—it may be a good idea to reduce these debts as much as you can before the baby arrives, particularly as, like with most things, there may be unexpected expenses along the way.
Higher interest rates and added fees can also really impact what you pay back on top of the principal amount, so also consider shopping around to see if you can get a better offer.
Other things worth looking into might include:
- Your credit card situation and whether you’re really getting a good deal
- Consolidating your debts into one if it means you’ll pay less in fees and interest charges
- If you can pay off your home loan faster or refinance to reduce the loan payment amounts.
8. Consider your will and broader estate plan
If a little person is about to enter your life, who you love and 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.
9. Don’t forget, money does not trump love
A new addition to the family can be an expensive time and a slightly daunting one, particularly if numerous people are giving you their ‘two cents’ on the parenting front.
With that in mind, remember your ability to afford the most expensive pram, baby clothes and possibly day-care centre will not outweigh the love you have for your child.
If you do have to go without a few non-essential baby items, opt for things that are second hand or handed down from families whose children are now a bit older, it’s all good - don’t be afraid to tell those with a few too many opinions where to go.
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