Life Planning for Beginners

How much does it cost to have a baby?

Recent studies have determined, after factoring for inflation, that the average cost to raise a childis a whopping $245,000. That estimate only includes infancy through age 18, and does not take college costs or other post-college expenses into consideration.

$245,000 per child is a staggering number for most. If you have a family or plan on starting one, you may be wondering how you’re supposed to afford to have a child. It would be so much easier if life planning came with its own instruction manual. While we live in the real world where tricky situations do not come with their own handy instructions, there is still a lot of time-tested wisdom out there and plenty of experts who are willing to share their advice with us.

Here are a few tips from the financial experts:

Prepare for a New Baby

Research shows that, given the same income, people who commit to a financial plan are much more successful in saving up for their goals. The same is true for planning a family and saving up for a good future for your children. For couples who are saving up together, having a financial plan in place will help them see eye to eye and (hopefully) be more successful in reaching their goals.

Planning for a new baby can start during pregnancy, or anytime prior to conception. A recent article offers a nine-month strategy for family planning. In addition to the common sense advice of cutting debts and tracking pennies, some of the other recommendations include: updating life insurance beneficiaries; evaluate pricing for various childcare options; and even the grim yet necessary task of writing a will (and choosing a guardian for your child) and putting together othernecessary documents just in case something happens to you. These are not always the things that we want to think about, but they are absolutely necessary to think about when bringing a new life into this world and raising that life through adulthood.

Build a Nest Egg

Author Dave Ramsey, who is known for his helpful books and radio show on paying off debts and achieving financial stability, recommends building up a nest egg as soon as you can. Start by saving up $1,000 in a savings account, while you are still working to pay off your debts. Eventually, you’ll also want to save up enough money to cover 3 to 6 months of your expenses. Why? There are no guarantees in life. Hopefully, you don’t lose your job, get in an accident, have to have an unexpected surgery, or encounter another situation where you might struggle to pay your bills. This savings covers your bills just in case anything happens and keeps you from slipping further into debt.

Get Help from an Actual Human

If you’re finding it difficult to navigate your way through life planning and finances on your own, there are people out there who can help. It might be time to find a financial adviser who can assess your unique situation and help you determine a plan that fits your needs. Forbes recently released a list of tips for picking the right financial adviser, which you can read here.

To Sum Up

Once you have followed these tips, you’ll be off to a good start. If you already have children, you’ll rest easier (well, as easily as you can rest with children in the house) knowing that you’re making important decisions to positively influence your child’s future. And if you don’t have children yet, you’ll be able to focus more energy on eagerly anticipating your future family, knowing you’re financially prepared for your little ones to arrive.

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