Have you got that clucky feeling? Are you planning for a baby? That’s great news – but make sure you do the maths first.
Baby: a delightfully squishy, roly poly ball of fun that makes your heart go boom-boom and your head go goo-goo-ga-ga. Once you’ve got the nursery colours sorted (monotones are big right now) and a couple of babgros (the all-in-ones that make changing nappies a breeze – sort of), you’re good to go right? Well, not quite.
I don’t want to rain on your parade, but it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a baby. After all, growing a tiny human to call your own is a very big deal. But before you start flicking through the world’s biggest book of baby names, you need to do your sums.
Planning for a baby comes with a pretty hefty price tag. Here are some of the key financial considerations to add to your baby plans.
Public versus private healthcare
One of the first questions you need to ask on the journey to parenthood is whether to go private or public. More often than not, people choose to have their baby in the public health system because it generally costs less than private – thousands less in fact.
Going public means routine consultations with midwifes, obstetricians, anaesthetists and paediatricians are often fully covered. But it’s important to note it’s highly likely examinations will be carried out by a different midwife on each visit. And access to the more specialised care of an obstetrician will only occur if the pregnancy calls for it.
When it comes to private, you’ll pay more for 24/7 care from the same obstetrician. If the delivery takes place at a private hospital, it’s likely you’ll have your own room post-delivery. You’ll most likely share with other new families on the public hospital’s maternity ward, even if you’re a private patient.
Day-to-day baby costs
There are plenty of everyday costs associated with planning for a baby. Big ticket items like a cot, pram, change table and car seat may be obvious, but be sure to make a list of all the incidental items you’ll need, too.
Nappies (a tonne of them), wipes (even more of these), bottles, steriliser, breast pump, formula, teeny tiny clothes for the baby and jumbo maternity clothes for your growing bump. It all adds up surprisingly quickly.
Bigger household bills
Then there are other, much bigger household items to consider. Your water and electricity bills are going to increase – will your income be able to cover it? Is your car big enough or do you need to upgrade to make room for bub? And a stroller? And groceries? So many groceries…
What about the walls around you? Can you comfortably fit another being into your happy home? Perhaps you need to undertake a bathroom renovation or knock down a few walls? Or potentially even move if you don’t have a spare room ready to roll for your mini-me.
Whatever the case may be, prepare early and prepare well – nobody wants to be renovating or packing boxes when they’re eight months pregnant. Trust me on this.
You’ll also need to consider what your income will look like once baby arrives.
Does your workplace offer extended maternity leave? Which parent will take time off work and for how long?
If you’re going it alone, do you have a support network in place to help you through the early months and perhaps allow you to work part-time?
Check out whether or not you’re eligible for government help too – parental leave pay, family tax benefit and Dad and Partner pay are just some of the entitlements you might have access to, depending on your circumstances.
D-Day: when the big bucks kick in
This is what you’ve been working towards – the day you deliver ‘grub’ or ‘jellybean’ or whatever nickname you’ve assigned to your growing bump. Sure, it’s a big deal, but in reality it’s what happens afterwards you need to prepare for the most.
Before you walk the path to parenthood, think about the big wide world you’ll be introducing your baby to. A world full of extra-curricular activities, daycare, school excursions, iPad, iPhones and MacBooks… and that pair of shoes/sunglasses/skis/enter expensive item here your child decides they simply have to have.
Whatever they throw your way (pureed banana will be one of them), you need to be financially prepared to cope with the aftermath. So read up, save up and remember to plan your finances alongside planning for a baby.