The Real Cost of Having a Baby
Most expectant parents have already read the statistics with great alarm: The cost of raising a baby from birth through college is into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s only if your child is willing to attend a public college instead of a private university.
The problem with these statistics is that they are designed to scare new parents and make the entire process of raising a child seem financially daunting. Yes, it costs a lot of money to raise a child. Yes, it will at times feel as though you don’t have enough money for everything you want to give your child. The best way to approach expectant and new parenthood with regards to finances is to not look at it as one huge cumulative financial obligation. It isn’t as though your baby will be born and the next day you’ll be handed a bill for the next eighteen years.
Instead, concentrate on the costs associated with raising a baby right now. There are a few expenses you may not be expecting, so keep these in mind and budget accordingly:
1. There may be medical complications. Even if your medical insurance covers all the extra expenses associated with any complications you or the baby experiences, there will be additional costs caused by the situation. Your spouse may not be able to return to work as quickly as originally anticipated, or you may have to pay for extra childcare for other children because of an extended hospital stay.
2. You may not want to return to work. Don’t underestimate your maternal instincts to stay right beside your baby even after your maternity leave has expired. Not every new mom experiences this, but for some women the thought of dropping her baby off at daycare is enough to throw her into hysterics. This isn’t only a female phenomenon either, as there are plenty of dads who experience the undeniable urge to quit work and stay home with the baby. This situation causes obvious financial strain, so if you feel as though there is any chance that you won’t want to return to work you should start adjusting your budget right away.
3. Babies grow quickly. Unless you’re blessed with bags upon bags of hand-me-downs from family and friends you will probably be quick to discover that babies can grow out of clothes really quickly. When you’re budgeting for diapers you should be sure to also budget for clothes for your baby. The first several months of a baby’s life will be a blur of different sizes, but take solace in the fact that growth does slow down eventually.
4. You will have the desire to buy a lot of stuff for your baby. Even if you are notoriously frugal you may be surprised by your amazingly strong desire to buy every cute toy, developmental tool, and adorable outfit you stumble upon at stores and online. You will probably have to stifle this desire as best as you can, but don’t be shocked if you look back on the first year of your baby’s life and realize that you spent an awful lot of money on things your baby didn’t actually need.
The best thing you can do is to compose a budget and stick to it. This is especially important during the first year of your baby’s life when parenthood is new and you aren’t versed in the actual costs associated with having children. Don’t allow yourself to get too terrified about the prospects of your financial obligation as a parent, though. Chances are you’ll muddle through quite nicely.
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