Mandy and I are very proud to have welcomed our third daughter this past weekend. Everyone is healthy and we are extremely excited. If you have ever had children, you understand what an extremely happy, but somewhat terrifying time it is. Why terrifying, you ask? Well, I know as a man, I immediately start stressing about providing for my family. It’s one thing to take care of yourself and work together with your wife to take care of the two of you; but adding children to the mix really hits home that it’s time to truly grow up! It doesn’t have to be scary, though. Just having our third baby, I was reminded of a few financial tips that I have down now but was clueless at the time of baby #1’s arrival. I would like to share them with you to hopefully help calm your nerves.
1.) Stop paying off debt and save! Once you find out the precious one is on their way, it’s time to stop any extra debt payments. Pay just the minimums on everything, and start piling money away. Especially if this is your first, it is important to build up a cushion since you are not sure what kind of expenses you are going to run into. Also, you are going to have a health insurance deductible to meet. By the way, when you get married, you really should add a maternity rider to the wife’s health insurance plan. Depending on your area of the country and how the birth goes, your bill from the hospital and doctors are going to run at least $15,000! Once all the dust clears from the birth and a few months after, then you can put any extra savings left on your debts and start attacking them monthly again.
2.) Slowly buy things during pregnancy. It is amazing how much stuff a baby will need. A crib, nursery furniture, a bassinet, a changing table, at least one car seat, a stroller, a pack-n-play, not to mention diapers, wipes, and other necessities. It can really seem overwhelming and it can add up to some serious dough. You can take some of the edge off by slowly accumulating these things during pregnancy. That is the beauty of pregnancy, you don’t find out the day before the baby comes that you’re having one. If it is your first, chances are their will be at least one baby shower where you will get a lot of these things as gifts. The point is to slowly, but surely gather all the necessities so that they are ready to go in plenty of time when the baby comes.
3.) Hand me downs are your friend! I hope you are not a hand me down snob. They are a great way to save money. Obviously, if you already have children, then the baby can wear clothes their older siblings wore. If you or your spouse has older siblings that have already had children, you can share clothes with them as well. Mandy is the seventh out of eight kids, so we had many nieces and nephews before our first one came. Her and her sisters have totes and totes full of clothes that get passed around each time a new baby comes. Sure, your baby will get new clothes of their own as well, but there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on clothes when it is unnecessary.
4.) Pay cash, you don’t want the repo man to come after your baby! Obviously, I am kidding about the repo man (I think), but you can save some serious money if you pay the hospital bills right away. The local hospital here in Quincy offers ten percent off if you pay your bill in full within the first thirty days. This can save hundreds, if not into the thousands, of dollars. If you save like crazy when you first find out like I suggested before, this shouldn’t be a problem. With Leah (our third), we found out from the hospital that they offer 15% off if you pay before even leaving the hospital. They like it because then they don’t have to worry about billing or collecting from you. We definitely took them up on this and saved a boat-load of money! Ask your hospital what kind of deals they offer for early payment.
5.) Don’t forget to add baby to your insurance! Most health insurance companies give a thirty day or so grace period to add the baby to your policy. You do not want to forget to do this! You will be responsible for all of the expenses from birth on if you do. I suggest calling from the hospital before mom and baby are discharged. That way, you know it is taken care of. Dads, make this one of your main responsibilities between birth and discharge. Mom has lots of things on her mind and is busy taking care of the baby. Write yourself a note, program it into your phone, whatever it takes, to remember to take care of this responsibility.
Having a baby is one of the most joyous times of life. Follow the above guidelines and you will be able to relax and enjoy it. It is completely normal to be a little scared, but use that fear as motivation to put the above things into place and everything will be smooth sailing financially. Now, you just have to figure out when you’re supposed to sleep!