The impending arrival of a baby is a hugely exciting time for any family, what can be often overlooked is the financial pressures which can mount if proper care is not taken to ensure the household finances are in order before the arrival.
Financial expert Anthony Bell tells us the best ways to financially prepare for the arrival of a baby and how to budget and save when one income drops off.
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In preparation of the arrival
For any expectant parent one of the first things they often realise is how underprepared they are and the number of new items they will need to purchase. While the list can be extensive, at a minimum you would expect to need the following:
Bassinet or Crib
As with most things in life there is a wide array of options in the market and the difference in price can be quite astounding. It is important to research what you need first and then look at the brands, websites such as kidspot (www.kidspot.com.au) can be helpful in providing reviews and advice from other parents.
When it comes to purchasing items for the baby, consider either waiting for the brands you want to be on sale or using a layby or buy now, pay later program to avoid the large lump sum expenses, however always ensure that you are disciplined with the repayment schedule as any missed payment will trigger penalty interest.
Remember also that you will need to get a car capsule installed well in advance of the birth and most families like to have the baby’s room set up with plenty of time to spare, babies come when they are ready after all!
Closer to the Arrival Date
With a larger number of families now relying on two incomes coming into the household it is important to understand what sources of income will continue coming into the household while the primary care giver is off work. It is also important to plan out how long each member of the family will take off to care for the new arrival, while this can change, this is the first step to planning out the expected income for the household and can be used to assist with preparing a budget.
Most employees in a permanent position will be eligible for some form of employer funded paid parental leave, while this can vary across different industries and employers this is most commonly 3 months at your pre parental leave salary while most employers will also offer an option to the take this as 6 months of half pay. Consider how long you intend to take off work before confirming this with your employer.
In addition the Federal Government offers 18 weeks of paid parental leave at the current national minimum wage which as at September 2019 is $740.60 per week.
Options are also available for the non primary carer to take up to two weeks off to care for the new baby and receive a similar level of Government funded support. One trend which we have seen
emerge recently is that whereby an employer will also offer some level of paid support for a non primary carer, the important point here is to ensure that both members of the couple have explored the options available to them with their respective employers.
Tips and Tricks
It goes without saying that the most important tip is to start the planning as early as possible, start with a detailed household budget, such as the one available through the ASIC Moneysmart website (https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/budget-planner) and have a disciplined approach towards sticking to the budget you set.
Consider setting up a specific savings account which can be used as additional funds to drawdown upon if things get tight while you are down to one income, look for an account that rewards you for saving and penalises you for withdrawals, this can be a great way to avoid drawing down on these funds unless absolutely necessary.
Having a newborn child at home can be busy enough so ensuring that the financial side of things are taken care of can relieve some of the pressures and allow you to enjoy time with your new born.
Please note that the above article is provided as thought provoking general advice, and should not be relied upon without first consulting your own suitably qualified tax advisor and financial services advisor, to ensure the best course of action is taken to meet your own circumstances.
Should you require some more specific advice, I would be delighted to hear from you at my Lime Street, King Street Wharf office, on 02 9249 7600.