Inside: You’ll find tips on how to get your finances ready for adding children to the family.
Adding children to the family is a time of great joy.
It can also be very stressful.
And when “mommy brain” kicks in (it’s a thing), you’ll forget some of the background tasks that need to be done. Heck, you might be so tired you forget to put pants on, let alone dealing with financial paperwork.
Money tips for new parents
If your little one is on his or her way, go through this list to ensure you are as ready as you can be financially.
Already have children? Then go through the list to ensure you’ve got your bases covered. If not, mark tasks on your calendar. Because, mommy brain.
Update your will
Of course you want to protect your family.
While you don’t want to think about worst case scenarios, you really need to. Sit down and decide who you would want to be your child’s guardians and who will manage the money until the child is older.
Then go and update your will, or write one if you don’t have one yet.
How are you set for your emergency savings fund? If you don’t have one, start one.
If you do have one, double check to ensure you have enough to cover the additional necessary costs of the little one.
Do you have life insurance, retirement or investment accounts? If so, verify and update your designated beneficiaries.
That way, if something happens to you, the money goes where you intend it to go. Especially important is to check with your estate attorney (that you used to update your will) about how to designate your children as beneficiaries.
You’ll likely want to set up some sort of trust for them rather than straight-up giving them all the money when they are too immature to handle it.
Yep, you’ll be flexing those muscles as you carry your child everywhere. But that isn’t what I mean.
Check with the HR department at work and ask if they offer dependent flexible spending accounts (dependent FSA).
The account allows you to set aside some money, pre-tax (which saves you money), to use toward child care.
Check for adoption reimbursement
Not all children are born into their forever families. Some of us choose to adopt.
If that is the case, as you wait, check and see if your employer offers any sort of reimbursement for adoption expenses. Not all do (in fact, it seems very few do). BUT, if you are lucky enough to work for someone that does this, find out the details and get your paperwork sorted.
We were able to take advantage of this for one of our adoptions and having almost ⅓ of the expenses reimbursed by work was a relief. Especially since adopting usually means any leave taken is unpaid – at least here in the U.S.
Before your bundle of joy arrives, find out what you need to do to get health insurance for your child.
If you get family health insurance through work, there is often a grace period to get paperwork in, but it is short. Have it ready to go and set multiple reminders on your calendar.
Because if you miss that deadline, guess what? You are on your own for your child’s health insurance until the next enrollment period at work (once a year).
The same goes for adopting. Actually, even more. Call and call again and get.it.in.writing that the insurance will cover your child when you get custody. It is a fight and your adoption agency may have resources to help you.
Too many times I have heard stories (and run into it myself) where the rep on the phone says you’ll need to send in a copy of the adoption finalization paperwork before the child is covered. I call b***s*** (exception may occur if your employer is self-insured). Why? Because often finalization is months if not over a year after gaining custody. Under ERISA, your child should be covered at placement. Ask to speak to a manager, get extra help and keep at it.
When you were child-free, you may not have thought much about life insurance. But with a little one to care for, you want life insurance if you are able to get it. A good level term policy is a great option to look at, especially while you are younger and healthy.
You may also want to look into disability insurance, especially if it is offered for free through your employer.
What is it? It is insurance that will replace a portion (not all) of your income if you are out of commission due to a disabling illness or accident.
Start a college savings account
Can you imagine what college will cost by the time junior is 18?
Give your kids a head start by opening a 529 account. Even if you don’t have room in your budget yet to put much in there, that’s fine.
You can ask grandparents and other relatives or friends to gift money to the account rather than fill your house with noisy toys. Many plans offer ways for people to gift to the account with a simple link or a form that can be printed out and mailed in.
Raising children is stressful, messy, and expensive. And it is also wonderful.
Once you have your paperwork in order, you can relax a bit and enjoy this time.
What financial advice do you have for new parents?