5 Unexpected Costs When You're Expecting
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Having a baby is stressful enough, but when you’re hit with costs you weren’t anticipating, it can be overwhelming. Here are five expenses to prepare for before bringing Junior home.

You’ve prepared the baby’s room with toys and clothing from family and friends, and you’re ready to not sleep for the next six months. But you might be unprepared for some unexpected costs.

Adding a new member to your family can be overwhelming – and costly. From medical bills and sleepless nights to deciding on childcare and the perfect stroller, it can put a major strain on your nerves — not to mention your budget — after you take Junior home from the hospital.

Here are three areas where you may face costs you weren’t expecting.

 

Medical Bills

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the national median charges for childbirth hospital stays in the United States were $13,524 for delivery and care for mothers and $3,660 for newborns in 2014. That’s more than $17,000 combined for delivery and care alone — the equivalent of one year at a public two-year college.

And if there are complications at birth or if your newborn has unexpected health issues, from relatively minor (like jaundice) to more serious (complications due to premature birth), medical costs can skyrocket if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage.

“Having a baby is expensive,” says Chicago-based financial advisor Antonio Lugo, president of Smart Wealth Strategies Inc. “And medical costs don’t go down. They only go up.”

Many employers offer benefits like health insurance and paid maternity leave for their full-time employees. If you and your spouse or partner are currently in the workforce, you may want to schedule a meeting with your job’s human resources department to review which benefits you qualify for, when the next enrollment period is and what steps you need to take before adding your newborn to your health insurance plan.

If you’re searching for an additional way to soften the blow of any unexpected medical costs, Lugo recommends investing in a health savings account (HSA) when you’re pregnant, and even earlier if possible. An HSA allows you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. After-tax contributions to your HSA are also tax-deductible, even if you don’t itemize deductions.

To qualify for an HSA, you must be covered under a high-deductible health plan and contributions must be made in cash (stock or property aren’t allowed). There are also limits to how much you can contribute. For example, for the 2018 tax-year, the limit for a family HSA is set at $6,900.  

Before taking next steps, be sure to visit the IRS website for updates and consult with your financial advisor and spouse.

 

Childcare

Childcare can be a tough decision for many families, but it’s one you’ll have to make sooner rather than later. “Childcare is a large expense, so it’s one you really need to be prepared for,” Lugo says.

A center-based daycare in the United States can easily top $10,000 annually.  The costs can vary widely by state — in Alabama, for instance, childcare averages $470 per month while in Florida, the number is $725 per month. If you're planning on hiring a nanny, you may have to pay state and federal unemployment taxes, as well as Medicare and Social Security taxes on top of a salary.

Before the baby arrives, create a new budget for your family that either includes the cost of childcare when both parents go back to work, which could run as high as $1,000 a month, Lugo says, or one that deducts one partner’s previous income should he or she decide to stay home.

 

Housing, Food and Transportation

Some of the largest unexpected costs may not rear their heads with a newborn, but as your baby grows, the costs will too.

For middle-income families in 2015, the largest expense in raising a child was housing, accounting for 29 percent of the total cost — or about $66,000 from birth until the child reaches 17. So as you prepare to welcome your new baby, be sure to prepare your home as well.

Food was the second biggest expense of having a child, about $41,000. While the cost of food is relatively low for a baby, formula will cost you between $70 and $150 a month. Further, the annual average cost to feed a teenager totaled nearly $3,000 in 2015.

And now that you have a baby on board, you may feel the need for a larger car. For parents in the market for a new ride, minivans are a popular choice for new families. According to AutoGuide, a 2018 model can cost between $25,000 and $47,000, which means you don’t have to break the bank.

Ready to go back to work after welcoming your new baby? Check out these resources to help you (and baby) transition back to your 9-to-5.

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