5 Significant Costs to Plan for as a Parent
The cost of raising a child is on the rise. According to a recent estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raising a child born in 2013 to age 18 will cost a middle-income couple just over $245,0001—not including the costs of pregnancy, birth and college. And with so many options on how to help your kid get ahead in life, it’s no wonder parents’ savings accounts are feeling the pain.
Whether you have an infant, a school-aged child or a 20-something, plan for your financial future by considering the following expenses.
1. Family leave. There are endless financial considerations to think about before your baby arrives—but some are more important than others. Time off from work after your child’s birth is essential for many reasons. But are you aware of how an extended leave can impact your ability to pay bills and save for retirement? Before pregnancy, make sure you understand whether your employer offers paid leave and your Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) options to discover the best leave option for you and your family.
2. Child care costs. If your child will attend daycare, expenses mount quickly. In fact, in 33 states the cost of infant care is higher than the cost of college tuition—$9,589 annually vs. $9,410.2 However, some child care options wreak less havoc on the wallet than others. Weigh your options early so you’re not left in a financial bind when your baby is born.
3. Before- and after-school care. Once your child is out of diapers and into the classroom, you may think you’re out of the woods. Not so fast—if your child attended daycare before kindergarten and you work full time, there’s a good chance you may have to explore before- and/or after-school care to fill the gaps. These programs are not without their own costs, so it’s important to know your options.
School-based before- or after-school care is an ideal solution for many families. This option allows your children to stay at the school they attend, in a familiar environment with familiar people. If this isn’t an option in your area, many families opt to hire an after-school babysitter or part-time nanny to fill the gap. Lastly, a child care co-op, in which you share before/after-school care responsibilities with other families in the area, could be a budget-friendly option. Ultimately, identifying your child’s needs and your budget for care will help you to make the best decision for your family.
4. College costs. There’s more than one way to help your child with college costs. You can always contribute financially, but you can also help by keeping your student on track when it comes to applying for scholarships and financial aid. In fact, recent FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) changes could help your student claim a larger chunk of federal student aid. Historically, a portion of federal grant money goes unused every year because eligible high school seniors don’t take advantage of the program. Be sure your student does.
5. Boomerang kids. The cost of raising children doesn’t always end when they’re 18. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, more 18- to 34-year-olds are living with their parents than any other living arrangement.3 Unfortunately, these “boomerang children” can create a sudden financial burden on their parents. With extra people at home again, it’s important to have a game plan. Start by checking out these five tips for managing your boomerang children.
Overwhelmed with all there is to consider? Download our new e-book, Financial Boot Camp for New Parents: Start Off on the Right Foot.