Nav.igating Financial Resources for Expecting Families
By Emily Elmore | 12 May 2020
First, congratulations on welcoming the newest addition to your family! Whether you’re expecting, adopting, or recently delivered: we know you have a lot of questions about access to care and resources to best support your health and the health of your baby. Parent wellness contributes to baby wellness, so it’s absolutely vital that you focus on your well-being through the transitions that your physical and cognitive health experience through pregnancy and beyond.
At Nav.it, we like to say that “financial wellness is personal wellness” because financial literacy and access to monetary resources contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. That was especially true for me when I became a new mother just a couple years ago. I was very fortunate to have an employer benefit plan that provided paid maternity leave and access to OB care. That was a huge relief and allowed me to focus on my recovery and my baby’s development. Financial stressors can burden that recovery, so here are a few tips to assist you during your journey.
1. Create a “before and after” budget to determine if there are shortfalls.
You can learn budget basics here, but once you determine how much was leftover each month before baby, it’s a good idea to review what budget changes are likely after the baby is born. Do you plan to go back to work? Do you receive paid maternity leave? If not, how much does that reduce your income, and how does that impact the budget?
2. Determine how you’ll spend less and examine opportunities to earn more.
Assuming your income is reduced, determine how long you anticipate that reduced rate. Can your current budget accommodate that reduction? If not, you’ll want to consider which items in your budget can be removed, reduced, or altered in a way that allows you to retain more of the earnings that remain.
Although you may not plan to go back to work for 8 weeks, you might have additional opportunities to earn extra income by selling unwanted items around the house. I know a woman who learned to sew during pregnancy and was so good at it that she opened an Etsy store and made a few hundred dollars just by sewing during nap time after her son was born.
3. Build your emergency fund.
Your emergency fund is for unexpected expenses and can save your tushy when you need to replace your car’s transmission (me) or suddenly find yourself unable to work due to prolonged injury (me again). From pets getting ill to an older sibling throwing a ball through a window, this fund should have 3-6 months of income in it to help soften any unexpected disruptions to your income.
4. Pay down debt.
This saves you all the money you would’ve paid in interest. Whatever percent interest your loan or credit cards are charging, that’s the guaranteed percent return you’re earning by paying that debt early. Most credit cards sit around 20%. There are literally no other ways to guarantee a 20% return. So pay off that debt and keep that money in your account. You can check out proven strategies like the debt snowball method or debt avalanche method. Focused on paying down the high-interest credit? Check out this post.
5. Review your salary and benefits, to include insurance.
Your baby will need to be enrolled on your health plan,so check out insurance and benefits. Understand what’s covered and inquire if anything is unclear. While an extended absence may not be the best time to ask for a raise, if your financial partner is also your life partner, it might be time for them to look into negotiating a higher salary. This is especially true if you’d like to give yourself the flexibility to not return to work immediately after giving birth.
6. Make a will.
It may seem counterintuitive to consider your death as you’re welcoming new life, but it’s all part of being human. It’s important to consider how you’re going to protect and hand down your assets to your family. A living will is smart too, which should be delivered to your hospital. It’s never too early to square this away and remove the burden from the shoulders of the ones you love most.
7. Consider college savings early with a 529 plan.
Most states offer 529 plans, education savings plans that help families save for college. In most cases, your choice of school is not affected by which state your 529 plan is in. This account offers tax-free growth and withdrawals for college, and some contributions may be tax-deductible.
8. Childcare considerations now may set you up later.
Do you plan on returning to work? If there are two parents at home, will one of you continue to care for the baby? If both parents plan to continue their paid jobs, you need to evaluate your daycare options. Are grandparents close by or willing to help? If you plan to use a daycare facility, good facilities often have waiting lists so you’ll want to get on it well before you plan to return to work. You can also explore options like whether your employer offers a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) you can use to pay for child care using before-tax dollars. Also take a moment to learn about the childcare tax credit, and what you have to do to use both your FSA and this tax credit.
No matter where you are in your journey, starting a financial health routine will set you up through all stages of parenthood and beyond. Nav.it is a money management app that brings all of your accounts to one dashboard, making them easy to manage and understand. Because of COVID-19 even our premium services are free, to help you nav.igate your new normal and prepare for all of Baby’s stages.
Emily Elmore is a former Air Force pilot and mother of two with an extensive background in technology and operations management. After being medically retired for losing functional use of her right arm, she became the Digital Director for Nav.it, a money management app that provides exceptional tools and community access to transform our money mindset and build financial wellness.