A newborn will bring a lot of change. Your sleep schedule will be turned upside down as your brand-new baby wakes up every hour for feedings. Your house will change into a mess of laundry and dirty dishes that you haven’t had a chance to clean. And of course, your newborn will bring a lot of change to your household finances. You’ll suddenly find that your shopping list always requires disposable diapers and wipes, and your spending on takeout will increase as you have no energy to cook a homemade meal.
What other ways will a newborn change your finances?
The only countries that don’t offer paid maternity leave to working parents are the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and the United States. It is not a national benefit.
This does not mean that you can’t access paid leave! You may still be eligible for this specific benefit through your employer. Check your workplace’s maternity leave policy to see how much time you can take off and how much you can expect to be paid to manage your finances. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2021, 23% of civilian workers had access to paid family leave. At the same time, 89% of civilian workers had access to unpaid family leave.
If your workplace doesn’t offer paid family leave, you may still be eligible for unpaid family leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees eligible workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. During those 12 weeks, your job will remain protected. Your employer cannot legally fire you for not being present.
While unpaid family leave gives you some time to recover from labor and care for your newborn, it presents one major problem: money. You won’t have your regular stream of income for three straight months.
Some new moms can’t breastfeed. This could be because the mom has a low breast milk supply, because they are taking a medication that poses a risk for the baby, or simply because the baby struggles to latch while breastfeeding. Luckily, there is a simple solution when breastfeeding isn’t possible: baby formula.
Baby formula can be a surprising expense for new parents. A few years ago, parents could expect to spend at least $100 per month on formula. Now, you may find yourself spending double that. The expense has increased in the past year due to inflation and a baby formula shortage.
Raising a baby can come with lots of surprise expenses, like trips to the doctor and pharmacy when they get sick. If you don’t have a fully stocked emergency fund by the time you have your baby, you might not have an easy way to pay for these types of finances out of pocket.
You might be tempted to use your credit card or apply for a personal line of credit for help. While these are effective backup plans, they might not be your best options while you’re on maternity leave (especially if that maternity leave is unpaid). Your change in income could make it much more challenging to repay a loan on time.
So, you should start building up an emergency fund now. If you’re not sure where to start, read these money management tips beforehand. The money management tips will help you follow a budget and save up more for emergencies. And if that’s not enough, the tips can also help you manage outstanding loans that you’re already contending with.
You’ll want to prepare for these financial changes before your new family member arrives. You’ll want plenty of time to adjust your budget and manage finances.