You may not be ready for a baby today, or even in the next five years. But, theoretically: Could your finances handle a little one?
Take a deep breath: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it will cost $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in). That doesn't include college. Before you faint, remember that you won’t hand over that whole sum at once.
You’re probably ready financially if you can answer “yes” to at least four of these questions:
Do you have at least $20,000 in savings?
First, you’ll probably have to pay some out-of-pocket expenses for your pre-natal care and delivery, even if you have insurance. A normal pregnancy typically costs between $30,000 and $50,000 without insurance, and averages $4,500 with coverage. Many costs, such as tests that moms who are at-risk or over age 35 might opt for, aren't totally covered by insurance. Plan to have at least $20,000 in the bank.
Is your debt under control?
If not, aim to get your debt to manageable levels. Expenses add up, and they can be urgent, so having a child can inadvertently cause debt to compound.
Are you saving 10 percent of your pay?
(Hint: You should be, whether you’re planning for a baby or not.) Consider automatic transfers from your paycheck to your savings account. You’re saving specifically for a baby, so this should be in addition to your 401(k) or other retirement savings.
Will your loved ones help with child care?
One of the biggest expenses is child care once you return to work. Having a partner or close family and friends who can share in the care of the child will make the situation much easier. Raising a child without family nearby is possible, of course; research day cares, nannies and nanny shares to find what's in your budget in your area. In general, infant care averages $199 to $596 per week.
Will someone throw you a shower?
Outfitting a nursery and buying things like car seats, strollers, and bouncers can cost thousands of dollars if you're not frugal. A baby shower will probably offset a large portion of that, especially if you register. At the bare minimum, you'll need that car seat to leave the hospital, and buying one secondhand isn't recommended, as there's no way to know if it's been in an accident (which means it's no longer safe for use). That expense alone can range from $80 to $500.
Do you have friends with babies?
If buying clothes for yourself is hard to resist, it’s doubly so when shopping for an adorable baby. Develop that discipline now, since baby clothes — even cute ones — will likely fit your newborn for three months or less. Borrowing clothes and toys (plus maternity outfits for you) from friends and siblings will save big money. Remember to have lots of larger sizes on hand in case your baby, like most, grows like a weed.
Pay it forward by handing down those clothes to other friends when they're expecting. When it comes to parenting, a little kindness goes a long way.