When you’re taking care of a newborn, it can be hard enough to shower, let alone stay on top of money tasks. In the haze of sleep deprivation, you may miss a bill payment or impulse buy random things online to help with infant care. suddenly you credit scores are reduced and your budget is stretched.
The baby planning itself—the name ideas, the nursery themes—is definitely more adorable than developing a system to make sure you remember to open the email, but the last thing you’ll want to do is leave managing money at will when your child comes. Here are ways to start your financial nesting.
Eliminate important tasks
Take advantage of the pre-baby months to make some important decisions, including:
- Health insurance for the baby: The birth or adoption of a child is considered a “qualifying life event” for health insurance purposes. That means you won’t have to wait for open enrollment to add your child to your plan, but you’ll only have a limited amount of time — about one or two months — after the birth or adoption to do so. Check your insurance plan’s rules to find out what the deadline would be. If you and your partner have separate plans, compare costs and decide who will take the child as a dependent.
- Estate planning: Talk to a real estate attorney about drafting a will, selecting a power of attorney and health care trustee, and establishing a trust for your child, if appropriate for your situation. “If something were to happen to one of you or both of you at the same time, it would a lot of problems for your child,” says Paul Sydlansky, founder and principal advisor at Lake Road Advisors in Corning, New York.
- Life insurance: A life insurance policy can provide vital funding for your family should something happen to you, your partner or both.
Prepare your budget for the baby
From smaller ongoing purchases like diapers and formula to massive costs like childcare, those baby expenses will add up. If you take unpaid parental leave or a parent leaves work to take on full-time care, the money coming in will change dramatically.
Start by identifying discounts you can make or invoices you can renegotiate to reduce costs. If you have credit card debt and there is room in your budget pay it off aggressively, which can free up more money for needs later. Start pricing in expected ongoing baby expenses, such as the monthly cost of daycare, so you can get a general idea of how your expenses will change.
Then automate bill payments for recurring costs like credit cards, utilities, and mortgage payments. If you rent your home and normally send a check to the landlord, use your bank’s bill pay feature so they can send checks on your behalf. Set up everything you can in advance so that these services continue without interruption and late fees.
Expect the unexpected
Don’t neglect to make room in your budget for unexpected costs.
Emily Rassam, a senior financial planner at Archer Investment Management in Charlotte, North Carolina, found herself spending more on self-care than she had planned. “My interest level in shopping and cooking decreased during pregnancy,” she says. That meant more of her food budget went to restaurants and takeout.
Rassam also recommends confirming childbirth expenses with your insurance company in advance. She found out, for example, that the hospital where she planned to give birth was in her insurance network, but the anesthesiologist was not. In this situation, getting an epidural would cost more than anticipated.
Touch your village
Loved ones are not only great sources of information, advice and free babysitting. They can also help you with financial tasks, whether it’s informing you of your money goals or even reminding you of payment deadlines.
Lori Gross, a financial and investment advisor at Outlook Financial Center in Troy, Ohio, says neighbors have the same deadlines for costs like property taxes and utilities, so ask them to send a reminder when they pay their bill. so you don’t forget.
“Family and friends are great at helping with these things, but many parents are hesitant to ask for help,” says Gross. “They don’t think they’ll need it.”
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.
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Sara Rathner writes for NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner.