What do YOU want to do?...
Although the sweet satisfaction of raising a wee one is priceless, the reality of it does come with a price tag (here’s a sampling: childcare, college savings, prom). Before you get smacked over the head with it, prepare your finances for all the joy to come.
Create a potential budget based on projected new costs
Once you know the additional costs you’ll face having a baby, put together a future budget that includes these costs. Then you can compare your future and current budgets to see where you may need to make changes in preparation; this way you can ease yourself into any lifestyle changes instead of trying to do everything at once when the baby arrives.
Do your homework
How much does it cost to have a baby? Diapers, clothing and outfitting a nursery are costs that naturally come to mind. Don't forget the out of pocket medical costs associated with prenatal care and delivery, and any day or in home assistance you may need. Finally, consider whether you'll need to buy a bigger house or car to accommodate your new bundle of joy.
Throughout the course of this year...
Explore daycare options
If both of you will be continuing to work, you'll need to decide who will care for baby when you’re away. Will you use a nanny? Small daycare? Larger "school" for infants? Some daycare centers have month's-long waits, so make sure you get on the list in time for your projected return-to-work date.
Reassess your budget
In order to afford the extra costs that come with another person in your family, you'll probably have to cut back on other things. Start deciding where you'll trim so that you can comfortably afford the new expenses.
Reduce any outstanding debt
A new addition to your household will pinch your budget even further. Try to rid yourself of any debt payments before that happens to maintain some wiggle room with your post-baby finances.
Save six months of living expenses
It's important to have an emergency fund to cover your monthly bills in case something happens like a job loss, extended illness or natural disaster.
Set up automatic savings transfers
Don't wait to see if there is money “left over” each month, treat saving as another bill to make sure it happens.
Try living on just one income
If you or your spouse is thinking about becoming a stay-at-home parent, give yourself a little test run by living on just one income to see if it's feasible. Put the other spouse's income into a savings account to either act as a cushion once your baby arrives or to provide the beginnings of a college education fund.
Throughout the years...
Check your beneficiary designations
Make sure you update any retirement accounts such as 401k plans or IRAs, as well as life insurance and any other asset you own that allows you to designate a beneficiary to include your child as a contingent beneficiary after your spouse.
Look at your benefits
Evaluate your employment-related benefits to make sure that as a family, you're receiving the best benefits for the premiums you're paying.
Review your life insurance needs
Now that you have a dependent, you may need to consider life insurance to provide for your family should something happen to you.
Start saving for college
Eighteen years will be gone before you know it. Start saving right away to maximize the chance that you'll have enough saved to cover college for your child.
Update your estate plan
Make sure your will is updated to name a potential guardian for your little one should tragedy strike.