Are you starting a family or maybe just thinking about it? As a new parent, you want to make sure you can provide your child/ren with a safe, secure home. In addition to getting baby gates and corner bumpers, it’s important to get your finances in good shape and keep them that way.
Raising children is not cheap. The USDA estimates that it costs over $230,000 to raise a child until they’re 17 years old – and that doesn’t include college tuition.
As a new parent, you’ll want to enjoy these years raising your new daughter or son, and worry as little as possible about bills. To minimize the financial stress of raising a child, here are some helpful tips:
1. Add your child to your health insurance
Your provider does not automatically add your child to your plan, so make sure you tell them. Most require that you add your baby 30-60 days after you deliver. If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), consider signing on. The funds are automatically deducted from your paycheck to be used for out-of-pocket health care costs. An added benefit is that these funds are deducted with pre-tax dollars, so that helps lower your taxable income.
2. Buy life insurance
Term life insurance is very affordable, and it will ensure that your child has some financial protection just in case you die before he or she reaches adulthood.
3. Create a budget
There are quite a few free apps, like Mint.com and Everydollar.com, to help you build a budget. This will enable you to see where your money goes and how to save for emergencies. Which leads us to our next tip.
4. Start an emergency fund
Again, you’re protecting your family for the “just in case” scenario. An emergency fund will help you keep your family afloat if you lose your job. Try to save a little each month and put it in an account separate from your checking account. Aim to save enough to cover 6 months of household expenses.
5. Use the tax breaks
Currently, the Child Tax Credit will let you claim a $2,000 credit per child on your taxes. To learn about all the family credits you may be eligible for, go to the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions-for-individuals.
6. Save for your retirement
If you haven’t started, begin now. The earlier you begin, the more you’ll earn in compound interest. This fund will ensure that your child won’t have to support you when you retire.