Sometimes it just feels easiest to say, "Charge it" when you have a sippy cup in one hand, a screaming baby in the other, and five things you're convinced you need to buy RIGHT NOW to get ready for baby, who's about to arrive any minute.
Lady, put the credit card down ...
Before you go getting all spendy, get to know the whole picture about how pregnancy affects your finances and the steps you should take to prepare for your baby's first couple of years. We're talking baby #1, #2, #6 ... you get the picture.
Here are our top three tips for getting your finances in shape for your pregnancy.
1. Create a Budget.
Creating a budget is critical to financial success and it will help you keep your spending in check. To start, take a look at your financial situation, which includes everything from your income to your debt to your savings. If you understand your financial net worth, you'll have a much better idea of where you stand before your baby arrives.
Once your baby is born, you'll need to budget your daily expenses, but in the meantime, create a specific pregnancy budget so you don't overspend on unnecessary items. I recommend you use the LearnVest budgeting calculator (but then again, I do have a bias) to create an accurate assessment of your spending.
Your budget may include maternal medical care, prenatal vitamins, food (satisfy those cravings), books (ex. What to Expect When You're Expecting), classes (pregnant yoga, Lamaze, etc.), maternity clothes, pregnant pampering, nursery, baby clothes, diapers, stroller, car seat, and so on.
2. Set Up a Baby Fund.
A child can be very expensive and you'll need to save big for things like college tuition. But there are also unexpected costs that you need to plan for—nursery care, braces, summer camp etc.—and it's important that you set up a baby fund so you can start saving NOW. The beauty of compound interest is that the earlier you start saving, the more you'll earn in interest over time. We all have an emergency fund (if you don't, set one up today!); it's time to set one up for your baby too!
3. Sign Up for Maternity Insurance.
Over the course of the next few months, you'll visit your doctor on a regular basis, so it's important that you have adequate health care coverage. If you have insurance, research whether or not it covers pregnancy. If your company has 15+ employees, your company's insurance is required to do so.
If you don't have insurance, the American Pregnancy Association recommends seeing if you qualify for Medicaid as it might be your most affordable option.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, you may proceed to spend ... carefully!