The pregnant mum’s money checklist
Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, bringing a baby into the world is a huge commitment. You’ll be faced with a mountain of dirty nappies, disrupted sleep and an inability to leave the house without an arsenal of baby gear. Yet few, if any, things in life bring as much joy and satisfaction as raising a child.
When planning for a baby, we tend to focus mostly on the physical and emotional aspects. Yet a baby is a big financial commitment as well. From health care to fitting out a nursery, you’re going to need to set some serious cash to cover it all. Here are five money must-dos to tick off the list during your pregnancy.
Open up a baby bank account
Almost half (49%) of Aussie parents wish they had more savings before having a baby – and for good reason. Babies need a lot of stuff. A cot, pram, change table and car seat are some of the larger items you’ll need to buy, and these alone will set you back around $2,000. And that’s just the start. Nappies, clothes, linen, bottles and breast pumps can all add up too, so the sooner you can start saving for baby-related items the better.
Sort out your health insurance
Private hospital births are expensive, and the price tag for your stay will usually range in the thousands. If you have private health cover, your insurer will foot the bill – but only if you’ve upgraded your policy in time. This is where mums-to-be can sometimes get caught out.
Most health insurance policies will make you serve a 12-month waiting period before you’re able to claim for pregnancy. This means that if you wait until you’re actually pregnant to upgrade your policy, it will probably be too late. If you plan to start trying for a baby within the next year, you should upgrade your policy as soon as possible to ensure you have adequate cover. Once you’ve given birth, don’t forget to call your health fund and get your child added to your policy.
Build an emergency fund
When it rains, you want to have an umbrella. An emergency fund can bring peace of mind if things turn pear-shaped. An unexpected medical issue might spring up, or you or your partner might find yourselves out of a job. Whatever the issue, it pays to have a financial backup. It’s recommended that you set aside enough to cover three month’s wages, but this isn’t always an option for everyone.
A good starting point is around $2,000. This is enough to cover a basic medical emergency or smaller issues like a broken water meter or a mechanic’s fees. From here, you can gradually add to it over time.
Look into government benefits
There are several government payments you may be eligible for when expecting a baby. This includes the Family Tax Benefit and Parental Leave Pay as well as Dad and Partner Pay. New mums are also entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave at the national minimum wage, which the government will cover. You might also be eligible for paid parental leave from your employer.
Dads and partners are entitled to two weeks government-funded leave at the national minimum wage. Depending on how much they earn, they might be better off taking two weeks paid annual leave instead.
As with any government handout, certain criteria will need to be met in order to qualify, so make sure to do your research before relying on any Centrelink payments.
Reassess your household budget
This is especially important, especially for first-time mums! If you and your partner have been living as DINKS (double income no kids), your weekly budget will need a big overhaul to accommodate a baby. You’ll need to factor in additional costs such as toys, baby food, bottles and formula as well as regular medical scans and check-ups. If you’re planning to take extended maternity leave, you’ll also need to factor in a loss of income when budgeting.
There are one million and one things to organise during your pregnancy, so don’t feel pressured to tick everything off the list at once. Everyone’s household budgets and family circumstances are different. What matters most is that you’re doing the best you can within your own means to give your child the ultimate start in life.