Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 15.
A baby's arrival brings a lot of joy and chaos. New and expecting parents need to limit the confusion and keep financial priorities clear.
"With money such a tough topic without children already, having a baby can make it even more stressful," says Mary Beth Storjohann of the financial advisory Workable Wealth in San Diego.
From car seats to college savings, the average middle-income couple will need some $300,000 to raise a child to age adulthood, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Adjust your spending plan to account for diapers, wipes, formula and daycare if necessary," Storjohann says. "See if it still works to continue saving with [these] added costs. If it doesn't, target areas for changes. Review your health insurance coverage to understand what your costs will be for care leading up to birth and any out-of-pocket expenses that will pop up during and after childbirth."
When Raquel Hinman of Hinman Financial Planning in Erie, Colo., had her second son, for instance, her doctor was busy delivering a baby in the room next door. "My nurse," Hinman recalled, "ran into the hallway and yelled, 'I need a doctor now!' so a doctor from Kaiser I had never met before ended up delivering my baby. It was an insurance nightmare."
There there are a host of other unanticipated health expenses.
"Babies can get sick a lot," Hinman says. "You may be better off switching to a plan with higher premiums but lower deductibles and co-insurance."