10 Ways Your Budget Needs to Change When You Start a Family
When you have a child, a lot will change. Children change your priorities and responsibilities. They also change the way that you manage your money. Most people plan on things like formula, diapers, and daycare, but there are several areas where you need to make changes in how you manage your finances from budgeting to life insurance and savings. You need to plan carefully to avoid accumulating baby debt. Learn 10 ways your budget will change once you have kids.
The cost of daycare is expensive. It varies widely depending on where you live. If you are planning on continuing to work after you have a child, you will need to plan for childcare costs. If you are planning on having one parent stay at home, you will need to adjust your budget to make up for the lack of income. Once you have two children, you may not be making enough to justify the expense of working until you are back in school.
You will need to plan for additional healthcare costs. Many plans will cover well baby visits under the Affordable Care Act. However, babies are prone to childhood illnesses and it is important to budget additional money for the trips to the doctor’s office and for medication. If there are allergies, you may end up paying more for formula or you may need additional services or therapies if there are complications. Building up a cushion can make managing these expenses easier.
Often the most affordable option is to add your child to your health insurance policy. You have 30 days from the day your child was born to do this and have everything from the birth covered. For your first one or two children, it generally means that the cost of the monthly premium will reduce the amount of your take-home pay. You can estimate your new paycheck using an online calculator so that you can adjust your budget.
Saving for College
Once you have a child, you should begin setting aside money to cover college costs. Getting out of debt may take priority over this for a short time, but saving for college through a 529 plan or similar tool can help your child get off on a solid start without accumulating a lot of debt. The more you set aside, and the earlier, you begin, the more you will have saved.
Life Insurance Needs
Once you start a family it is important to have life insurance. Both parents should have a life insurance policy in place to help cover the costs if one of you were to die. Even if you are not working, you should have a life insurance policy to help defray the additional costs of childcare. You can also get a large enough policy that you can use part of it to cover the costs of college.
Change in Your Taxes
There are tax benefits for having a child. You can claim an additional person on your taxes. You may also be able to claim a portion of the childcare expenses and use the Child Tax Credit. When you have a child, you may want to change the withholding amount on your check. Use the IRS withholding calculator to determine if you should change the amount you are currently having withheld or speak to your accountant.
Adjust Your Flexible Spending Account
If your job offers a flexible spending account, you should take advantage of it. You can have additional money withheld to cover the cost of daycare expenses. You and your spouse can each do this at work, and it will make some of the expenses come out pretax. Additionally, you can increase the amount in your health flexible spending account to cover additional medical expenses.
When you have a child, you will eventually need more room. Once your children are school age, you may want to move to make sure they are in a good school district, which often means moving to a more expensive area. Take the time now to plan for the additional costs involved with having a child and determine just how much you can afford to spend on a new house.
Ongoing Lifestyle Changes
There may be additional costs and lifestyle changes that you will need to account for. Things like taking a vacation or how much time you spend on hobbies will change. Some expenses are just more money because you have an additional person, for example, buying an extra plane ticket when you go on vacation or additional food when you go out to eat. The first year these changes may be minimal, but it is important to plan for them.
Changes to Your Budget
Your budget may change quite a bit as you plan for additional monthly costs like baby food, formula, and diapers. Other categories may need to increase as well, such as clothing or entertainment costs. As your children get older, you may opt to enroll them in classes and sports which can cost additional money and you will need to budget for that. Taking the time to start planning for those things now will make it easier to adjust as your children get older.