‘Are you financially ?ready for a baby?’

It’s hard to believe that someone so tiny can come with such a big price tag. The Agriculture Department estimated the cost to raise a child born in 2009 from birth through age 17 at $222,360 and that doesn’t even include college. That cost is likely higher now.

Medical Costs

Medical care for mother and child can be a huge expense, depending on what your insurance plan covers. One of the biggest costs of having a baby could be the delivery itself.

The average bill for natural delivery is $8,300; for Caesarean delivery, it’s $11,500. C-sections with complications average $15,500. And all babies –even perfectly healthy ones – require frequent doctor visits during the first few years for well-baby checkups and immunizations.

Before starting a family, check your insurance plan to see what out-of-pocket expenses you’ll be responsible for during pregnancy and afterwards. If your plan does not cover prenatal care, you might want to explore taking out a supplemental policy that does. Keep in mind you have to take out the policy before you’re pregnant, or the pregnancy most likely will be considered a pre-existing condition and will be excluded.

Make sure the doctors you want to see are in-network. Look into your health plan’s out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and co-pays. Also, if your employer offers a flexible spending account for medical expenses, be sure to participate.

Affording Your Baby

When planning a baby budget, ask yourself these questions:

Will one parent take time off from work?

Maternity and paternity leave benefits vary from state to state. Check with your employer to see how much time off you’re eligible for; is it paid or unpaid? Will you use regular sick leave, if you have it accumulated?

Are you eligible for short-term disability and how much will it pay?

Coverage will vary in both amount and duration so review your policy before getting pregnant.

Does the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protect your job?

If you work for an employer with more than 50 employees and have worked at the company for at least one year, your employer usually must allow you to take up to 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA. Family Medical Leave Act link is http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/

Will you have to purchase a bigger car immediately?

Consider the size and safety of your vehicle. If it’s safe, maybe you can wait awhile before having to purchase something larger.

Will you need a larger house?

The Agriculture Department’s estimate shows that housing is the biggest single expense of raising a child. If you already have a home and don’t have to make many changes because of the new baby, you can avoid a huge expense. If you do need to make changes to your home to accommodate a baby, consider a home equity loan from the credit union. Home equity interest up to $100,000 typically is tax-deductible, if you itemize deductions.

For infant-related expenses, did you include medical costs, food, and diapers in your spending plan?

Even if you plan to use cloth diapers and breast-feed, plan to save additional money in case those options don’t work well for your baby. And, diaper laundry services aren’t cheap.

The bottom line rule for women: If you have excess debt, get it under control by spending less and saving more before you decide to have a baby. Create a spending plan and save to accommodate your new family member. Tools for developing your savings plan are available at evergreencreditunion.org.

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