How to Control Your Debt Before Starting a Family

Are you thinking about starting a family? Congratulations! Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. But before you take the plunge into parenthood, there’s one important thing you need to do: get control of your debt and the stress that comes with it. Let’s get into some debt management tips.

Why should you get control of your debt before parenthood?

To begin with, having a lot of debt can put a severe strain on your finances. No matter how you slice it, having a family is expensive. From medical bills to childcare costs, there’s no shortage of things that can put a dent in your wallet.

But don’t despair! With a bit of planning and some debt management tips, you can control your finances and ensure that your family is taken care of.

A Glimpse into Your (Family’s) Financial Future

Plenty of costs will accompany your plunge into parenthood, some beginning before a little one has even entered the world. Here are some basic expenses you can expect when you start a family, accompanied by debt management tips to control your debt before it gets out of hand.

1. Medical Bills

Whether you have insurance through your employer or purchase your policy, medical bills are always going to be a reality when you start a family. If you’re not already doing so, start setting aside money each month to cover these costs.

KFF provides a litany of statistics in this regard. Still, the most straightforward comparison is this: the average annual premium for single coverage is almost three times lower than for family coverage.

If you’re anything like me and those numbers sent a legit shiver down your spine, don’t panic. There are tips and tricks to supplement your medical insurance and reduce overall costs. Understanding HSA, FSA, and HRA can significantly help you be prepared if/when medical events occur.

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2. Childcare Costs

If you’re planning on returning to work after having a baby, childcare will be one of your most significant monthly expenses.

The average cost of monthly childcare in the United States is $972, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).

Look into your options early and start budgeting for this cost as soon as possible. We’ve discussed this more in-depth in another piece that can give you the numbers and a few options for care.

3. Housing Costs

There are a few things to consider when it comes to housing costs. First, you’ll need to think about the size of your home. Do you have enough space for your family now? What about if your family expands? If you’re planning on having more children, you’ll need to ensure you have enough space for them.

You’ll also need to think about the location of your home. Are you close to schools, parks, and other amenities your family needs? Is your neighborhood safe? Are you able to live the lifestyle you desire?

Finally, think about the cost of your home. Can you afford the mortgage or rent payments with the changes to your monthly spending plan? You’ll also need to save for repairs and maintenance.

Planning for your housing costs is essential when family planning. By doing so, you can ensure a comfortable and affordable home for your family.

4. Family Leave

This one has a lot of variables to it. Paid family leave varies greatly depending on your state or company and has been a long-standing talking point in Congress. If you’re planning to start your family soon, make sure that you’re well versed in the family leave policy of your state or company. This will help you determine if and how long you will be covered for any time you need off to establish your new family.

If you’re planning to take family leave, there are a few things you’ll need to budget for. Here’s a list of some of the most common expenses you’ll face:

  • Childcare costs: If you cannot rely on family or friends for free childcare, you’ll need to factor in the price of daycare or babysitting.
  • Health insurance: If you’re taking paid or unpaid leave, you’ll still have to cover your health insurance premiums. While some employers will continue to pay their portion of contributions, others don’t. This can get expensive, especially as you extend the coverage to cover your family.
  • Housing costs: You’ll need to continue paying your rent or mortgage while on leave.
  • Transportation costs: Factor in the gas and car maintenance costs while you’re home with your baby.
  • Food and other household expenses: You’ll still need to pay for groceries and other essentials while on leave.
  • Baby expenses: Of course, you’ll need to budget for diapers, formula, and other baby supplies.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: Unexpected costs always come up when you have a baby. Make sure to have a cushion in your spending plan to cover things like doctor’s visits, vaccinations, and other unanticipated costs.

5. Transportation Costs

Your transportation needs will likely change once you have a family. If you’re not already doing so, start budgeting for a larger vehicle that can accommodate car seats and your family’s gear. Notoriously, double strollers don’t fit into every trunk of every car.

Remember, the costs for cars have gone up.

According to Cox Automotive Research, the average monthly car payment was a record high of $712 in June. With the continued chip shortage and supply chains still rocky at best, finding a new vehicle at an affordable price has become more challenging than ever. Make sure you take the time to do your homework and find a car that will serve your growing family and fit your budget.

In this image, a woman is using a hand fan, while battling rising utility prices.

6. Food Costs

Eating healthy can be expensive, but it’s worth it when you have a family to feed. Plan your meals in advance and shop during sales to save money on groceries.

US News states, “Grocery budgeting has become even more difficult lately. According to the consumer price index, the cost of eating food at home has risen 10.8% over the past 12 months, the largest increase since 1980. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs has seen an even larger jump: 14.3% over the last year, the largest 12-month increase the country has seen since the period ending in May 1979.” With global supply chains strained more than ever due largely to the war in Ukraine, feeding a new family will likely be more costly than ever.

7. Clothing Costs

As your kids grow, they’ll need new clothes to keep up with their growth spurts. Start setting aside money each month to cover these costs.

As tempting as it may be, buying that $50 pair of Jordans for your infant just isn’t the move.

Keep in mind that kids are constantly growing. What you buy today could become a hand-me-down next month. Want to put a number to that? “Baby clothes are the most common gift that new parents receive, but the average cost of clothes is around $50 a month for the first year.” No need to double your budget if you don’t need to.

8. Entertainment Costs

From movie tickets to vacations, entertaining your family can get expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun without breaking the bank. Get creative and take advantage of free or discounted activities in your area.

According to, “According to a recent survey, the average American expects to spend nearly $2,000 on vacation. For families, that can easily reach into the five figures.” You’ll want a savings account dedicated to jet-setting the family around the country or world. It can be budget-busting to make last-minute moves, so make sure your accounts stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.

Ways to Acknowledge, Assess, and Alleviate Debt

Now that you know some of the basic expenses you can expect when you start a family, it’s time to start planning for them. By getting control of your debt and budgeting for these costs, you can minimize debt stress and ensure that your family has everything they need.

Here are a few debt management tips to help you get control of your debt before starting a family.

1. Acknowledge your relationship with money.

Do you tend to spend more than you can afford? Are you carrying a lot of credit card debt? Is it difficult for you to save money?

Answering these questions honestly will help you increase your financial clarity and figure out where you need to change your spending habits.

2. Assess ways you can practice money mindfulness.

Start paying attention to your money. Track where you’re spending it and see where you can cut back. You’ll be more mindful of your spending and make better financial decisions.

3. Create a budget.

Keep track of your income and expenses so you can see where your money is going. This will be especially helpful once you have a family to support.

4. Make a plan to alleviate and ultimately pay off your debt.

If you have a lot of debt, it can feel overwhelming and be a source of constant stress. But don’t worry, you can get rid of it! First make a plan to pay off your debt and reduce your stress. Most importantly, stick to it.

The debt avalanche and debt snowball methods are two common strategies for paying off debt. Each has pros and cons, so it’s important to understand each before deciding which suits you. Here are some debt management tips using the debt avalanche and snowball approaches.

The Debt Avalanche

Image of income and expenses in the app. Gains include income. Expenses include groceries, healthcare, restaurants, pharmacies, and unsorted.

The debt avalanche method is the more “rational” choice, as it saves you the most money in interest payments over time. You make minimum payments on all of your debts except for the one with the highest interest rate. Once that is paid off, you move to the debt with the second-highest interest rate, and so on.

The Debt Snowball

The debt snowball method is more of a psychological approach. You make minimum payments on all of your debts except for the one with the smallest balance. Once you’ve paid that off, move to the debt with the second smallest balance, and so on.

Let’s Compare

The main advantage of the debt avalanche method is that it saves you money in interest payments. Meanwhile, the debt snowball method is more likely to motivate you since you’ll see results more quickly.

So, which is the right choice for you? That depends on your personality, financial situation, and which will better reduce any stress about debt. If you’re the type who needs to see results quickly to stay motivated, then the debt snowball method may be a better choice for you. The debt avalanche method may be a better choice if you’re more patient and disciplined. Ultimately, the most important thing is to make a plan and stick to it.

5. Seek professional help.

Seek professional help from a money coach if you’re struggling to get control of your debt and the stress that accompanies it.

With, you can talk to a money coach and finally get answers to your burning financial questions. Consider it one of those ‘everything you ever wanted to know’ books, but you get to speak to a real person.

They can help you apply debt management and stress reduction tips, create a budget, make a debt repayment plan, and find other ways to get your finances under control. With the guidance of a money coach, you can better navigate even those more difficult to talk about subjects like managing money in a relationship or planning to move out of your parents’ house.

Knowing how to control your debt before starting a family is essential to financial success and reducing stress. Set yourself up for a bright future by following these debt management tips!

Related Reads:

5 Financial Steps to Take Before Having a Family

Here’s How Much to Save for Maternity and Paternity Leave

5 F.R.E.E. Financial Tips for Families

Pros and Cons of Multigenerational Living

Headshot picture of the writer of this article, Kenneth Medford III, with a muted black and white filter.
Kenneth Medford III

Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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