You might have the layette planned, the diaper bag already packed, and your car seat installed in anticipation of your new arrival, but sometimes it's easy to forget the less obvious details. The more planning you do before Baby, the less you'll have to think about in those first few hectic weeks. Aside from all the physical prep work, becoming mentally prepared for your new addition can benefit you later. Addressing these topics now will save you from a lot of unexpected stress and conflict later on.
Money and Budget
"Incorporating a budget into the family finances should be a top priority for every married couple," says certified financial planner R. Jeanne Renner of San Diego. Renner's company, Making Ends Meet, offers families personalized consulting, from basic budget building to household management education. "I like to compare getting married to starting a small business with two owners. Each comes with his or her own financial history, money skills, and upbringing. A baby only adds to this. You wouldn't go into a business without knowing the financial attitudes of a business partner, but many couples rarely discuss finances until there is a problem," says Renner.
Renner offers the following financial preparation tips:
- Work on setting goals and spending boundaries. "A goal might be to buy a house in the next few years. To do this you need to create a savings plan. Likewise, make concrete boundaries, such as neither partner will make a purchase over $200 without first talking it over." Goals can be broken down into immediate (like furnishing the nursery), futuristic (buying a house), and long-term (saving for college).
- Plan ahead. Budget in incidentals such as holidays, birthdays, and other extra expenses. "These types of expenses don't have to catch you off guard; don't wait for the need to arise."
- Don't lose perspective. Renner makes it clear that children learn at a very early age about money from their parents. "Kids are happier with time and attention rather than things. Kids need to know where money comes from, so include your child early on in the family budget."
- Make getting out of debt priority number one.
- Begin saving for college now. Renner suggests getting into the habit of putting just a few dollars into a savings account each week.
The Birth Plan
Having a birth plan is an accepted part of labor these days. Review your plan with your doctor or midwife and learn your hospital's childbirth policies. No birth plan guarantees the planned type of birth, so it is important to remain flexible.