I recently spoke to Jean Chatzky of the Today Show and BabyCenter.com about budgeting for a baby, saving for college versus retirement, and hand me downs. Families spend between $163,000 and $377,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18. College not included!
Got tips on how to budget for baby? It’s import to step back and take a look at your financial picture. How much money you’ve got coming in. How much money you’ve got going out and then re-prioritizing. The fewer new things you feel you have to have, the better off you are going to be. My kids grew up in hand me downs , on hand me down furniture. And then we passed them down. These things are meant to last much longer than the child’s life stage.
How do you figure out what you want and what you need?
If you look for the wiggle room you will find it. Any purchase that you can research on the Internet, anything that can be handed down, you can find wiggle room.
What about getting caught up in product marketing? I would observe the same sorts of rules and time constraints that I put on my own purchases. Ask yourself, what happens if I don’t buy it? Try to figure out how necessary these things really are. And then pause before you buy anything. I force myself to wait 24-48 hours to pull the trigger. Chances are a day later I’m not even thinking about it.
Should you save for your child’s college or your retirement? You gotta start with retirement. Because there is no financial aid for retirement. We put money in our 401k and we try to max out there, then we save for college. Parents put such pressure on themselves to pay for an entire private or public education. Don’t make yourself feel guilty because you’re putting money away for your own retirement. If you don’t have enough, you’re going to have to pick up the phone and call your kids. It’s not a bad thing for your kids to have a stake in the game. If you want to help them minimize the debt they graduate with, you will get savvy about applying for scholarships, about selecting colleges, about starting the first two years in community college.
How do you know whether or not you or your spouse can afford to stay home? The math behind that is very personal, unless the breadwinner is the significant breadwinner. I really suggest that you try it. Use pregnancy as a time to road test it. Take that second income and bank it. You’ll have a bigger cash cushion and know that it works by the time the baby comes.
What tax credits are there for parents? The tax breaks exist. Child credit. Depend care credit. Education credits. If you are a parent doing your taxes and you want to do them yourself, use a tax software program. It is going to lead you through the questions so you don’t miss anything.