4 Non-Baby Things To Think About Before Baby Arrives

January 11, 2017

The nursery is decorated. Your hospital bag is packed. You’re all ready for baby.

Or are you?

Nobody wants to talk about debt or death on the brink of an occasion as joyous as birth, but better now than to delay it further. Below are four non-baby things every parent should think about before baby arrives. Baby already here (or full grown)? It’s never too late to ensure your family is protected. Start now.

{But first, a disclaimer: I happen to be an attorney, but I am not your attorney, nor am I an estate planning attorney, a financial advisor, or a life insurance agent. The following information is provided merely as friendly advice from one parent to another. As with anything you read on the internet, you should consult an expert before taking action. Also, this post contains some affiliate links, but all opinions are my own.}

One. Finances. You don’t need me to tell you babies are expensive and a huge responsibility. CBS News just reported that the estimated cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is now $233,610. Do you create—and stick to—a monthly budget? Do you have a plan for how you’ll afford a kid, yet alone a plan to save for retirement and pay off any debt? Perhaps provide your child with a college education?

If you would have asked my husband and I these questions about four months before our son was born, we would have answered a resounding no. For too long, we had been overspending, under-saving, and (as Dave Ramsey says) treating my law school student loans like they were some kind of pet. But we flipped the switch overnight and were able to make significant changes before baby arrived—most notable of which is we paid off my student loans the same week our son was born. Starting parenthood with our financial house in order provided a kind of peace of mind probably only a human now responsible for another human can understand.

Financial makeover programs are a dime a dozen. We chose to follow Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, as described in his book, and we now wholeheartedly endorse it. This post is not sponsored by Ramsey—we just feel strongly about his program because he made it simple, doable, and (dare I say) fun. In seven steps, Ramsey will teach you how to attack your debt and approach your savings. He’ll also teach you how to budget. We use his free EveryDollar app each month to track our expenses and savings.

Not the reading type? You can learn about the seven steps through Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (a nine-week video series available in-person, online, or through the home study kit) or tune-in daily to his three-hour radio show (also available on his website, iHeart Radio, and as a podcast). His radio show is gold.

Two. Life Insurance. Will your child(ren) be protected financially if something happens to you and/or your partner? Perhaps you’re already rolling in the dough and this isn’t a concern—but if you’re not, then consider getting life insurance. My husband and I each carry term life insurance, and though we pray we live long enough to see our policies expire and our children flourish, we take some comfort in knowing our son (and any future children) will be provided for financially if something happens to either of us.

A reputable life insurance broker can advise you on whether you need life insurance and, if so, how much and for how long. Life insurance isn’t limited to parents who work outside the home—stay-at-home parents also should consider coverage based on the replacement value of in-home services they provide (i.e., childcare).

Three. Will. Not only does having a will let you dictate who gets your assets upon your death, but it also lets you dictate who will take care of your minor children. The laws governing wills are state-specific, so be sure to prepare a will that complies with the laws of your respective state. My husband and I purchased our will template from US Legal Forms, which sells state-specific will templates and templates for other important documents. You should also consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure you’re fully protected.

Four. “Legacy Box.” “Legacy Box” is a term of art coined by Ramsey, which he discusses in his book The Legacy Journey. Ramsey recommends storing your important documents in a single location (and telling your family about that location), so they have easy access to the documents if something happens to you. Important documents include your will, life insurance policy information, bank and other financial account records, car titles, passwords, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and so on. Ramsey further recommends keeping a copy of your documents in a separate safety deposit box, in case something happens to the originals.

Questions or comments about the above? Did I leave something off the list? Let me know—I appreciate your feedback and would love to hear from you!

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