(Australian Associated Press)
Planning for a baby is an exciting time but don’t forget to check in on your financial fertility too.
Nappies, a cot, pram, clothes – it’s no secret giving birth and caring for a newborn is expensive, particularly if you opt for a private hospital.
The average cost of childbirth in the private system ranges from around $7,000 to $9,400, according to the nation’s largest health insurers Bupa and Medibank.
That’s separate to obstetrician fees and other specialist costs, some but not all of which are covered by Medicare.
It’s prudent to think beyond the baby stage too, because faster than you can say excursion fees, your little one will be running though the school gates.
It costs Australian couples an estimated $466,000 to $490,000 to raise a child to the age of 18, depending on the household income, according to the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling.
The first step to getting financially fit pre-baby is discussing with any partner your expectations about who will care for your child and for how long.
You should also review your employer’s maternity leave policy and any government payments you are entitled to, such as paid parental leave at the minimum wage for up to 18 weeks.
AMP financial adviser Andrew Heaven suggests practising living off one wage for as long as you can before giving birth, to see if you can still meet your mortgage repayments.
If you can, make as many extra repayments as possible before your child arrives so you have a buffer.
“There is always going to be stuff that blindsides you so the key financially is to try and maintain as much flexibility as you can,” Mr Heaven says.
“Put yourself in a position that if for some reason the principal carer doesn’t want to return to work as early as was expected, you have got some breathing space.”
Omniwealth senior financial planner Andrew Zbik says one option is to switch to interest-only mortgage payments for a period, but this is not a long-term fix as you’ll never pay off your loan.
He says when the primary carer returns to work, one strategy to pay down your debt faster is to pump the extra cash flow into other investments.
“When mums go back to work is a great time for people to sit down and do an investment strategy, because they have gotten used to less cash flow coming into the household and have really cut back their expenses.”