I recently found out good friends of mine are expecting and it got me thinking back to a blog post I wrote in 2011 when Ted had yet to make his grand entrance. In honor of my friends who are about to break into the world of parenting, here is the advice I give to any expecting parents.
- Expect irrational panic Not to be a narcissist (right now), but I am pretty level headed when it comes to my financial future. But I lost SEVERAL nights of sleep by panicking over my financial viability. I think this is just mother nature’s way of letting you know that you are an animal, and you have survival and defensive instincts. It’s okay. Just relax, and find your confidence again by going over the facts. Cost: A few sleepless nights
- Stop wasting money RIGHT NOW You usually have about 7.5-8 months to get your financial house in order, upon finding out that you are expecting a child. Use every second of this. I know that you know what you waste money on. It’s time to eliminate the BS. This baby is going to change your finances. Are you dining out too much? Are you spending traveling too much? Do you have a boot collection that can fill the child’s future room? Cut the fat. Cost: A few lattes
- Come to terms with the medical costs It costs money to extricate the child from the lady. Much in the same spirit that it took effort to extricate Luke Skywalker from the Tonton. Am I comparing a womb to a Tonton carcass? Possibly. But I just laughed out loud, and that’s justification enough for me. The most pressing financial issue during your pregnancy is the cost of literally having the baby delivered. Below you can see the “payment plan” that Mrs. Planner and I are using with her doctor’s office. In a nutshell, we are putting the spawn of Planner on fetal layaway. I have to be honest with you (as if I’m not all the time), if you can’t afford this part of having the child, then you might be in trouble. This is why I think it’s so important for you to cut out your wasteful spending right away. As you can see, we have insurance. This is helpful in reducing the costs. Oh, and don’t forget that you have to pay the hospital too. The cost below is just for the doctor. Add on another $1,500-$5,000 for the hospital. Cost: $4,000-$7,500
- You probably need to prepare a room for the kid Everybody loves babies, but no one wants to sleep in a room with one. In the olden days, babies used to sleep in drawers. Okay, I made that up. But it’s a funny image nonetheless. It’s pretty common to paint the room (please use low VOC paint), furnish the room, and babyproof the house. This costs money. Figure AT LEAST, $150 for this. The most likely scenario for a middle class is family is that you spend close to $1000 on this part. The good news? Once you have one child, then you don’t have to spend the money again. The really good news? You get a kid out of the deal. Cost: $500
- You are going to need some new clothes Not you, non-pregnant significant other. The pregnant lady will need some clothes that fit her growing body just a bit better. Guess what. Unless you plan on bartering for the clothes with a spare goat, then you are going to have to spend some money on maternity clothes. This will most likely cost you at least a couple of hundred dollars. Cost: $200
- Baby clothes, the great destroyer of budgets This is the most variable expense on this list. Gifts and hand-me-downs go a long way. Some people want their children to look like Anna Wintour dressed them, and some people just don’t care. I’m not judging. Okay, maybe a bit. But just take it easy. Cost: bare minimum $200 through the first year
- Gear Why do parents have SUVs and Minivans? Because kids require that you travel with a tremendous amount of stuff. I can’t believe the amount of equipment that it takes to raise a baby. You would think that a baby doesn’t need much stuff. Pack and plays, strollers, bouncy seats, Boppies, car seats, gates, play yards, etc. Hopefully, you have a great group of friends and family that can shower you with these gifts via a baby shower. However, that isn’t always a reality. You can expect to spend at least $500 on this stuff from pregnancy through the end of the first year. Cost: $500
- Feed them food, catch their poop One of the most vivid memories of staying at the hospital when we had Ollie (pictured above in her big sis t-shirt) was when the lactation consultant offered her services to us. A lactation consultant? A breast milk specialist? Pete the Lactation Consultant. How’s that sound? Sorry. Anyway. I’m not dumb enough to get into the breast feeding versus formula argument. So we will just talk turkey. If you don’t breast feed, then expect to fork over about $80-$120 per month for formula. And if you don’t plan on using cloth diapers, then expect to pay about $80-$120 on diapers per month. In their mouth, out their bum for a mere $240 per month. Cost: $160-240 per month
- Figure out a child care plan yesterday Child care is expensive. And good child care is really expensive. Let’s say that you are entertaining the “it’s cheaper to stay home and not pay for childcare despite forgoing your paycheck” idea, cool by me, but you better employ math. It’s a pretty simple activity. Either cut the cost of child care out of your spending, or your entire income out of your spending. Cost: A freakin’ lot
- Be reasonable with your family and friends My good friend Raquel once told me that when it comes to accepting gifts for raising a child, always say yes. I have to agree with her. That means if someone wants to let you borrow a crib, then say yes. If someone wants to buy you a stroller, then say yes. If someone wants to give you a sensual massage, ask your baby-daddy first. All of that being said, don’t ask for stuff. It’s unsightly. Billions have babies have been born. Your baby is not the first and only child of humanity. Be reasonable. I have seen SEVERAL people lose perspective and ask the world of both their family and friends.
Buckle up! You are in for a bumpy, but wonderful ride.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.