Thinking of starting a family in the next couple of years? Make sure your finances are in order first.
Before you start choosing names and browsing for strollers, here are seven steps to prepare you for the financial commitment of having a baby.
1. Calculate your time off work
To start, figure out how long you and your partner want to take off work to care for your little one. Consider whether you’re planning to drop down to part-time hours during your baby’s first years.
2. Know your entitlements
Next, look at what kinds of financial support you’re eligible for. If you’re going to be the child’s primary carer and you fit other criteria, you could be entitled to up to 18 weeks’ paid parental leave from the federal government — even if you’re a seasonal employee, a contractor or self-employed.1
Other income support schemes for families include the Parenting Payment and Family Tax Benefits. Find out what you’re entitled to, based on your financial circumstances.
3. Make a budget
Once you’ve decided how much time off you’re likely to take and the extra income support you can expect, make a household budget. Work out your current expenses and add in the additional costs of raising a child. Then, compare it with how much money you’ll have coming in. If there’s a difference, you’ll need to start putting away some extra money now.
4. Start saving
It’s never too early to start saving for your child’s future. You’re bound to have some extra expenses in the short term, so it could be worth opening a higher interest savings account or term deposit to help save for those.
You might also want to talk to a financial adviser about longer-term saving and investment strategies — especially for big-ticket costs down the track like your child’s education. Options may include investing in shares or managed funds, or paying more off your mortgage now to free up your money later.
5. Sort out your health insurance
Next to education, healthcare could be one of your biggest expenses, so make sure you and your partner have the right level of health insurance. Some couples realise too late that their policy doesn’t cover pregnancy-related expenses, and then they have to face a waiting period of up to 12 months after they increase their cover.
6. Don’t forget personal insurance
To protect your family financially, consider taking out income protection insurance. That way, if you get sick or injured have to take time off work, you could still have money coming in while you get back on your feet. Another important one is life insurance, which could pay your family a lump sum if you pass away or become terminally ill.
If you’re worried about the added expense of insurance premiums, don’t despair. You can take out both life and income protection insurance through your super, so you don’t have to cover the costs from your household income.
7. Boost your super
That brings us to a very important consideration — how to keep building your super if you’re taking time off work. One option is to salary sacrifice part of your income into super now. And if you or your partner is planning to take time off while the other keeps working, splitting your super contributions between you can offer potential tax advantages.
1Department of Human Services (2015), Employee eligibility for Parental Leave Pay
This article has been prepared by Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFS Licence 232468 (Colonial First State) based on its understanding of current regulatory requirements and laws as at . It may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available from Colonial First State carefully and assess whether the information is appropriate for you and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. Information taken from sources other than Colonial First State is believed to be accurate. No member of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group, its employees or directors, provides any warranty of accuracy or reliability in relation to the information or accepts any liability to any person who relies on it.
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