11-16-2015 09:10 AM
Content provided courtesy of USAA.
by JJ Montanaro, CFP®
When you see a rubber duckie, you think baby, right?
Maybe that’s because they’re both cute and squishy.
Or perhaps it’s because parents need to get their ducks in a row before a baby comes.
It was almost a year ago that my idea for this series of articles — if you can’t do it right, it’s not the right time to do it — was born (pardon the pun) and later central to a discussion with my oldest daughter and her husband on the topic of making me a grandfather.
Here are a few ducks any potential parents need to line up before expanding the family:
Do your homework. Check with your employer to find out what is offered from a paternity and maternity leave standpoint. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Perhaps your employer offers paid leave? Check it out. Also, investigate the financial implications with respect to health care expenses and insurance. How much will that ultrasound cost, for example?
Reconstruct your budget. A baby is going to challenge both sides of your budget equation: income and expenses. You or your spouse may take time off from work, and depending on the situation, it could be without pay. Your plan to work also could change. The bottom line is that having a baby could affect income — short and long term — so plan for it. And be aware, you’ll face an array of new expenses: diapers, food, clothing for mom and the baby, and increased health care costs. Build a budget that accounts for changes to both income and expenses.
Stockpile some cash. Whether you’re going to be setting aside money to cushion the impact of lost income or new expenses, having a significant stash of cash goes a long way toward reducing your stress. The normal three to six months’ of expenses in an optimum emergency fund may not be enough, so start saving today.
Stockpile some stuff. I know when the time comes, we’ll be helping out on this front. I can already envision diapers in my back seat, and I’ve seen my wife eyeballing “the cutest outfits.” If you spread out the purchase of nursery furniture, strollers, car seats and the like, you can reduce their financial sting. Also get hand-me-downs from friends, shop with coupons and get creative so you can build up what you need without going broke.
Update insurance and legal paperwork. With a new baby, you may need more life insurance. As I discussed earlier, you may want to re-examine your health coverage to ensure it fits the new situation. Taking care of legal paperwork, such as a will, that names a guardian for your child and sets up appropriate financial arrangements is another critical task.
My daughter and her husband laid much of the groundwork in the months following our discussion. So when the time is right, they’re in good shape financially.
In fact, I suspect that by the time you’re reading this article, I’ll be pondering a new title — Grandpops. Papa. Grandpa?
I plan to do this grandfather thing right.