Pregnant? Your next year is bound to be full of joy, excitement and dollar signs. According to a 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the average baby costs new parents around $12,800 for the first year. But before you break into a cold sweat, stop and make a plan. Budgeting for your little one can help you navigate these pricey waters – and keep stress and frustration to a minimum. Here are some major child-related expenses to consider when planning your baby budget:
Giving birth in a hospital is likely one of the most expensive items you'll ever cut a check for. Hospital fees can run up to $2,600 for a vaginal delivery and more than $4,500 for a cesarean. Given these jaw-dropping numbers, you'll want to make sure you have health insurance – and that you fully understand your maternity coverage. Consider your co-pay and deductible, too. Ensuring you're fully covered well before your delivery day will save you a bundle as you welcome your own bundle of joy.
The U.S. has some of the worst parental leave policies around. In fact, we are one of three countries in the entire world to not guarantee paid maternity leave. The most new moms can hope for, as mandated by the government, falls under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees 12 weeks unpaid leave. The key word there, of course, is "unpaid." Before delivery day, sit down with your partner and run your numbers. How much time can you afford not to collect a paycheck? How can the two of you save up now to ensure you can take 12 weeks away from your job once baby arrives? Giving some thought to these issues now will mean less headaches and heartaches down the line.
Baby's going to need diapers, a car seat and a safe place to sleep. All of these expenses add up and should be factored into your baby budget. Learn more about how to cut costs by determining what items you really need for your son or daughter.
Nanny, day care or stay at home parent? Deciding who will be in charge of your little one's day-to-day can have a big impact on your finances. Maybe you and your partner will learn that having one of you be at home full-time makes more sense money-wise. Start the conversation now, well before your child is due, to ensure you can make the decision that's right and smart for you.
Has the cost of birthing and raising a baby left your head spinning? What are you and your partner doing to help plan for your little one's first year? Share your tips with other new parents in the comments below!