How to handle money when there’s a baby on the way…
When we found out that we were expecting a baby, we were very excited but also anxious. In the months leading up to his arrival, we did what most soon-to-be parents do: decorate and organize the nursery; schedule doctor visits and work out hospital details; wash, dry, and fold newborn clothes; and all of the other tasks that come with preparing for a baby. Amidst all of the steps we were taking to attempt to be ready, one question on our minds was How should we handle money with a baby on the way?
After going through it and now looking back at that season of life just before our baby boy arrived, I offer this: When you know a baby is on the way, handle your money just like you plan to handle that precious baby - with great care.
You are probably thinking how simple the answer sounds. While it is a simple answer, it’s not always easy to heed the advice or follow it well. Check out these 9 steps to take as the months and days lead you closer to welcoming your child!
1. Have a solid emergency fund in place. I CANNOT stress how important this is! As beautiful and wonderful as it is to welcome a baby into your lives, you will also face new stresses and strains on your relationship with your spouse as you adjust. Do what you can now to establish an emergency fund so you don’t have to stress so much about money. And yes, I acknowledge that there are certain situations that may happen that even a solid emergency fund can’t fully cover --- but it could at least help. Of all of the steps I mention, this one deserves its place at the top of the list!
2. Take any extra money you still have at the end of the month and tuck it away into a savings account. If you have $22 left over, save it. If you have $220 left, save it. Now isn’t the time to buy extra stuff or splurge often.
3. Beware! The emotion and anticipation tied to a baby’s arrival can cause a person to spend like crazy. Reel it in. If you find yourself clicking Buy Now on Amazon too often, it might be wisest to just avoid Amazon altogether - remove the app if you just can’t help yourself. Also, limit your Target trips while you’re at it, haha!
4. Don’t buy much until after the baby shower. Again, it is completely understandable to want to buy a few outfits and some other things as you prepare for that sweet baby...but don’t go overboard. Your family and friends are excited also and will generously offer gifts!
After the gifts make it home and into the nursery, sit down and make a list of needs and wants that you still have. Ask friends and family members who have had children what their must-haves are to help you develop a good list.
5. As all of this is happening, you should be following a budget. If you aren’t, create one ASAP. I know most people despise the word budget, but it’s one of the best ways to get down to business and get things accomplished. For most, adding a new baby to the mix is going to add a strain of varying degrees to your finances. Knowing how much money you have coming in and exactly how much is going out - and where it is going - is so important.
When you both sit down and work on a budget, it opens the door for more communication and allows you to make choices about spending together. It is better to be proactive regarding spending decisions than reactive; there is usually anger and hurt involved in the reactive. A great budget tool is EveryDollar.com - it’s free and very user friendly! Following a budget will help you with shoring up your emergency fund!
6. Declutter! As we prepared for welcoming our baby boy, we gave stuff away that we no longer needed and sold a few things too. Even if the “stuff” doesn’t take up room in what would be the baby’s space, decluttering in general is a good move to make. Have a yard sale or use social media to see if others want things you no longer need or use. You are going to need more space - especially once your baby is on the move! And of course, you will need the extra money for any unexpected expenses.
7. Shop consignment sales, yard sales, or thrift stores - get quality, often little-used baby items for less. Some outfits will only get worn a few times - don’t spend too much on baby clothes!
8. Bringing a baby into the world is NOT an excuse to rack up credit card debt. Make up your mind early on that you will be disciplined. If swiping a credit card is too tempting for you, hide it from yourself. If you want to get really serious about it, cut it up.
(Also, I know that some people encounter very difficult circumstances when their precious baby enters the world :( I am not at all referring to those cases here and understand that when hard times hit, some don’t have much of a choice.)
9. If you are brave (and able to), try living on one salary before the baby arrives - that would allow you to do some SERIOUS saving and also get you prepared for sacrifices that may be necessary after the baby is here.
Of course, some of the greatest things you can offer your new baby are unwavering love, positive attention, and quality time. It is definitely helpful, though, to consider how you are handling your money so that you can also offer stability and financial security in your home!