So you welcomed your first child, and you're ready to continue growing your family. Odds are you now know what it takes to prepare financially for a baby — but are you prepared for the challenges that come with budgeting for a second child?
Here's what you'll want to consider to make sure you can add to your family while staying on track with your other financial goals (like retirement).
You've Got the Basics Down
As a parent, you already know how much children can increase your monthly cost of living. It takes money to meet your child's basic needs, after all — and most of us strive to go far beyond the basics to give our kids everything we can.
This can include opportunities for education, community and growth. Depending on the age of your first child, their activities and schooling could start to cost you more and more, especially if they sign up for extracurriculars that require special equipment, such as sports, dance classes or science clubs. That would create more line items to balance when you budget for a second child, because expanding your family means taking on more regular expenses for things like food, clothing and health care.
No parent wants their children's needs to compete with one another. To help avoid this situation, you might want to make some changes to your budget now in order to be better prepared financially before you have your second child.
Making Room in Your Budget
Take a look at your expenses now and see if there's anything you can cut back on. Are there subscription services you don't use, or don't get enough value from? You can also call service providers and ask about any available discounts or lower-cost options. As your family grows, don't forget to take advantage of cost-savings strategies like buying groceries and toiletries in bulk, or even claiming tax credits available to you.
Look into ways to avoid spending altogether when possible. Can you keep what your first child will outgrow? Do you have other family members who can provide hand-me-downs for your growing family?
Implementing these small and simple changes can give you the momentum you need to tackle larger financial decisions. You might start thinking about buying a bigger, more expensive house, for example. But ask yourself: Is that really a need? If you're short on bedrooms, can your children share one? Do you have to upgrade your car simply because you're expecting another child, or can you get by with the one you have?
Think carefully before making large financial changes, and remember: You don't have to let pressure from other people influence financial priorities for you, your family or your household budget. No one knows your family like you do.
Evaluate Your Insurance Policies
Insurance is designed to help protect you — and, more importantly, your growing family — from worst-case financial scenarios. Life insurance, for example, help protects your loved ones from the risk of financial hardship should anything happen to you. When you're looking for areas in which to limit spending, it's important to consider the value provided by insurance and other, similar expenditures.
You might want to reach out to your provider and ask for information about how bundling different types of policies (homeowners, auto and so on) could help reduce your total costs. With more expensive policies, your provider might offer a larger discount for buying multiple insurance products from one company. This could also help you keep track of your bills and payments by housing all of your policies together.
You might consider bundling home and auto insurance, for example, putting all your coverage for material possessions under one umbrella. Or you might choose to combine your life insurance with your spouse's to consolidate those benefits. Different providers will have different options available, so speak to a representative to learn more.
Do the research and shop around before bundling to get a better idea of what might be the right choice for you. Not all insurance providers have bundling discounts, and those that do will handle them differently.
It Takes a Village...
It really does take a village to raise a child — and pay for one, too. That support can become even more important as you bring a second child into your family. If you have family members who want to help you out, like your own parents and grandparents — or even siblings who don't have their own children — make sure to offer them a financially savvy way to do so.
For very young children, that might include requesting birthday gifts in the form of contributions to a savings account in their name, as opposed to items like toys and clothes that they'll outgrow or could borrow from their siblings. You could also open a 529 plan, to which grandparents and other relatives can contribute.
Your family might also be able to help you save on childcare if relatives are able and willing to help you cover those needs. Even having a day or two a week where you don't need to pay for something like daycare can have a large (and positive) impact on your family's long-term budget.
When you're adding a second child to your family, planning ahead can help you save even as your household grows. By thinking about both the little things (like cutting day-to-day costs) and the big ones (like getting creative with your existing living space), you can start making changes now to help you focus on the joys your next little one will bring.