Marvelous Money: Preparing financially for a baby

9 February 2015

Well, here it is: the most frequently-requested topic since I started Marvelous Money. I have resisted writing on it since I have not, in fact, had a baby, and therefore feel under-qualified to write about what someone should do to prepare for having one, but the requests kept coming. So, after thinking about it for many months, I figured I would do this:

1. Put my best attempt forward, based on things John and I have thought about or I have discussed with the wise people around me.
2. Ask for your advice in the comments!! People who have had babies, I want to hear from you!
3. At some point in the future, after I have actually had a baby, come back and write a follow-up post. Hopefully I will not be crying tears of laughter at myself.

Alright, let’s do this! My best tips for preparing financially for a baby:


1. Start saving. Just start saving money. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what it’s for, or how much you need to save, or whether or not you’re pregnant. If you’re thinking about having a baby, start saving money. It’s always a good idea to save, but you will surely need it for something if you’re adding a new member to the family. Money is not everything, but generally, the more money you have, the more choices you have.
2. Start, build, or top-off your emergency fund. If you currently have no emergency fund and are pregnant, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to set-aside three to six months of savings in nine months (it took us two years). That’s okay! But just because you can’t do it all doesn’t mean you should do nothing. At the very least, set aside $1,000 to deal with unexpected expenses.
3. Find out what your out-of-pocket maximum is and save that amount. I hear that it’s a little bit expensive to be pregnant and to actually birth a baby. Therefore, it’s entirely likely that you will not only hit your insurance deductible but reach your out-of-pocket maximum. If you have an HSA, your maximum could be thousands of dollars (ours is $4,500). Read up on your health insurance plan and be smart about what expenses you could be looking at.
4. Research your maternity leave. If you currently have a job and don’t know if you have maternity benefits or what they look like, now is the time to find out! How long is it? Do you get paid? Full salary, or partial? What does FMLA leave mean for you? If you won’t be getting paid, discuss with your spouse how you will make up the difference in your household budget – savings? Cutting back on expenses?
5. Try to make some of your income more passive. If you are an entrepreneur or a creative person, brainstorm ways to bring in more passive income during your maternity leave, if possible. This could look like an invitation download if you have an Etsy shop, or an e-book if you blog, or even working ahead (if you sell a product) to have items ready to ship. Not relevant for everyone, but I wanted to mention it!
6. Talk with your spouse about what you want your life to look like. And use that discussion to estimate how your costs might change. Are one of you planning to stay home? For one year? For ten years? How will you make up the difference in your budget? How will your budget absorb the additional expense of a child? Are you on the same page about where you’ll cut back, if necessary?
7. Research childcare options. If you’re planning to have any sort of childcare, what will it cost? Full time day care? Full time nanny? Part time? Grandparents? Request information or ask around and figure out how much each option costs in your area. Brainstorm how you will fit this money into your budget.
8. Make sure you have the important things in place. While not completely financial in nature, making sure you have a living will in place, life insurance coverage, and other important grown-up items becomes even more important when you bring a child into the picture.


Adorable niece! (And adorable sisters, too.)

9. Think simple! Yes, there are mandatory expenses that come along with having a baby – but I think most of the time a lot more money is spent on a new baby than is actually necessary. John gets annoyed at me when I say things like this, because he thinks I’m being naive. Maybe I am, but in talking to friends and observing the world, I think there is a lot of truth in that statement.

My eyes were opened when talking to my friend M. Her daughter was born six weeks early. She had just had her shower the day before; she and her husband were planning to fill in the gaps in the next few weeks to make sure they were ready for baby’s arrival. Instead, they spent the next few weeks in the hospital and never went on that big purchasing trip – they just bought what they needed as they needed it, and most things they never ended up purchasing at all.

From what I hear, babies don’t need a whole lot. They certainly don’t need a fancy nursery. They don’t need a ton of outfits (probably a multi-pack of simple onesies would be fine to start). They don’t need a special blanket to lie down on or cover them in their stroller (you probably have an extra blanket in your house you could use). I’m not saying these things aren’t lovely or useful or that I might partake in them myself – but if you’re worried about the cost of a new baby, I want to encourage you that there are many ways to reduce expenses. Borrow or purchase items from older friends or siblings. Shop consignment sales and stores for clothing. Search Craiglist for used items at a fraction of the price.* I know I will be doing all of the above!

To conclude, there are a lot of big questions, and words like “saving” and “budget” and “thousands,” in this post. Yikes! Instead of being discouraging or overwhelming, I hope it leaves you feeling empowered. I worry sometimes that a future child will derail the financial momentum John and I have worked so hard to build, but I think being brave and thinking ahead is the best way to ensure we have as many options as possible when the time comes. I hope you feel the same way!

Friends, I would LOVE to hear from you!! If you have a child, what, if anything, did you do financially to prepare your family? Does this advice ring true or am I totally off? If you are thinking about having a child, what financial questions do you have?

*Safety standards are updated often, and I know there are certain items (cribs, car seats) that experts recommend buying new. Make sure to do your research!

Ten year dativersary

4 February 2015

Ten years ago last week, a boy named John Thomas called up a girl named Emily Ayer and blurted out, “So… I think I like you.” Around her nervous giggles, they set a first date – ice skating at the local rink. About halfway through, he pulled her over to the boards and asked if she wanted to go out with him… to which she replied, “I thought we already were!” (It was her first date ever, so we’ll forgive her confusion.)

Ten years plus one day, an interstate move, two cats, countless travels, a college graduation apiece, one engagement, one wedding, and one house later, John and Emily went ice skating again, this time outdoors in the crisp clear air and under the bright lights of downtown Raleigh.


I’ve already shared our full love story, so I won’t repeat it again here. But our relationship, aside from my relationship with God, has been the defining story of my life, and so our ten year dativersary deserves at least a small mention! As I wrote in an anniversary card to John, my life has been immeasurably richer, richer than I could ever have imagined, for having him in it, and that is something to celebrate.


This excerpt from Mere Christianity was read at our wedding. When I first came across this passage, soon after John and I started dating, I pretty much hated it. I thought it was unromantic, and untrue. Ten years on, I find it both terribly romantic, and more true every day. To me, it represents perhaps the best that one could hope for in a relationship: that you have a deeper love for each other with every passing year. That has been the case for us, and I am grateful.


February 2015 Goals

2 February 2015

In looking ahead at my calendar, it seems February is going to be the last quiet month before things really kick into high gear with travel, work, visitors, etc. in March, April, and May. So I want to use this month well, and also enjoy the slower pace!


January goal recap:
Finish our wedding album design and place the order
Finish the video for our niece’s first year
Finish celebrating Christmas with my family in Connecticut!
Send out invitations for a special baby shower (Invites have been selected and will be ordered this week!)
Get into a rhythm with John for our daily Bible reading

That last one – yikes. It has been way harder than I anticipated to get into a rhythm with our reading. The assignment for each day is fairly lengthy – 15-20 minutes – and we haven’t settled on a time that works for both of us. We’ve tried before bed, in the car while driving together, and at dinner, but nothing has stuck. Any suggestions??

Goals for February:
Prepare our new backyard flower garden bed (take out grass, amend soil, etc.)
Research and choose plants for the new garden bed
Touch up paint on our front door (yes, still left over from October’s paint job!)
Pull inspiration for dining area curtain options
Confirm a baby shower food and decor plan

What do you have planned for this month? I’d love to hear, or, if you’ve written a post about it, take a look!

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