Blogger Bridget Casey discusses what Grownups can do to plan financially for unplanned pregnancies in nine months or less.
You might think unplanned pregnancies only happen to teenagers, or Grownups who were not using birth control, but you’d be wrong. As many as 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, and most of those unplanned pregnancies happened despite contraceptive use. What’s more, the majority of women who find themselves pregnant choose to carry that pregnancy to term and parent.
So if you’ve recently found yourself unexpectedly expecting, you’re far from alone!
Few things will drastically change your finances like a child, and if your child is arriving unexpectedly, their impact on your money can be even greater. Whether you’re married or single, a surprise pregnancy presents significant emotional and financial challenges and you might feel unprepared. The reported cost to raise a child is a whopping $233,610, but don’t let that number scare you. There’s always a way to afford the priceless joy of parenthood.
Set up a Baby Fund and Start Saving
As stressful as it is to find yourself unexpectedly pregnant, the good news is you have a few months to save and prepare before you have to care for an actual baby. I found out I was pregnant when I was five weeks along, which despite the shock and surprise, meant I had a full eight months to get my finances in order before my baby arrived. While a newborn might feel like a financial emergency, at least it’s one you can see coming.
One of the first things to do is set up a dedicated savings account and call it your “Baby Fund.” Set aside a fixed amount of money in this account each payday to be used for any pregnancy- and baby-related expenses, from maternity clothing to hiring a doula to setting aside extra cash for your maternity leave. Think of creative ways to put extra money in the account, like redirecting the cash rewards from a cash-back credit card to your baby fund. You’ll also find that as your lifestyle changes (e.g., removing alcohol from your weekend routine) will provide a few extra dollars in your budget.
Take Stock of Your Support Sources
Even if your pregnancy was unplanned, family and friends will be there to support you. Ask any friends who have recently had children for recommendations or hand-me-downs to reduce your costs of buying maternity clothes or baby items new. Ask a close friend or family member to host a baby shower, and make a baby registry of essentials and nice-to-haves you want for your infant. You might find the generosity of the people close to you relieves a lot of the initial out-of-pocket costs of welcoming your new bundle of joy home.
Don’t let pride get in the way of tapping into free resources in your city, too. Pregnancy care centers offer discounted or free resources such as counseling, birth classes, and baby items. If there’s a “luxury” purchase you think might be out of your budget, like hiring a doula, don’t give up until you ask if there’s an income-based price or payment plan to make it more affordable.
If you’re not in a relationship with the father of your child, decide whether you’ll want to ask for child support and research how much you’re entitled to. This will help you create a budget after your baby is born. Likewise, don’t forget the Child Tax Credit or other income-based subsidies for childcare to help with the costs of parenthood.
Plan for Life with a Newborn
It’s no secret your life is going to change dramatically once you have a baby, but knowing just how much it will change and how much it will cost is the best way to prepare. Some financial and lifestyle planning tasks you should determine during your pregnancy include:
- How much maternity or parental leave can you take from your employer? Will this be paid or unpaid?
- What does your health insurance cover for prenatal care and birth? Don’t forget to explore the costs of midwifery care and giving birth at a birth center or at home instead of a hospital (if your pregnancy is low-risk and this is of interest to you).
- Which childcare options are available to you? Will any family be able to provide free part- or full-time care? What do local daycare homes and childcare centers charge, and are prices income-dependent? Don’t forget to check when you have to put your name on the waitlist!
When it comes to having a baby, no one is truly prepared. If your pregnancy was unexpected, you can still put yourself on the best financial footing to welcome your new family member. All it takes is a lot of planning, a bit of saving, and the willingness to ask for help!
Bridget Casey writes for MoneyAfterGraduation.com.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.