Top 5 things you should know before starting a family

If you have decided to start a family, you must be happy and very excited. And why not? One of the life’s greatest joys is to have children and bring them up. However, it is a very big decision, fraught with complications and filled with anxiety. It is like bungee jumping – those who have done it tell you it can be done, but it still looks like a frightening plunge. And remember, it is an irreversible decision. Once you and your spouse have a child, everything will change; nothing will remain the same.

The foremost worry is about financial preparedness. In today’s surcharged atmosphere, full of uncertainty, cash crunch, lower and lower interest rates on savings, soaring healthcare costs, rising cost of education, particularly higher education, and inflation, you need to plan very carefully before you bring your bundle of joy into the world.

Clearly, you need to walk into this with your eyes wide open. Here’s a list of top five things you need to know before starting a family.

1. Preparing a new budget

Having a child will throw your finances into a tizzy. Your earlier financial plan will no longer be relevant. You have to get ready to face a whole lot of new expenses. Starting a family is not child’s stuff – you will have to be prepared and plan before the baby comes home. Right from nappies and diapers to cribs and feeding bottles and medical care for the child, a host of new expenses will suddenly emerge. With a new mouth to feed, make sure you are ready for all the little costs that quickly add up. Will you have enough income to cushion the extra spending? It might be a good idea to rope in your family members for leftover usable supplies. You will need to prepare a new budget, keeping in mind your present monthly expenses, and the projected expenses, once the child comes into the world.

2. Revisiting your insurance

Your insurance plan will need a relook. Take your health insurance, for instance. It might have been enough to cater you and your spouse, but will it meet the needs of your new family? Now you need to review your insurance policies and benefits to figure out your options. Ask yourself whether your current plan covers both parents’ and children’s needs completely. If not, take additional cover. If you have purchased a maternity insurance, the chances are high that it covers baby expenses also up to a certain limit.

3. Taking a re-look at your contingency fund

You might have a contingency fund to take care of those emergencies that can crop up anytime. But now you need to revisit it as you have to be prepared for emergencies that might strike three people, and not just two. Assess your present living expenses, add the additional expenses you will incur now that you want to start a family, and then put aside a sum that is enough to take care of at least four-to-six months of your spending. Both partners should put away some amount every month in the emergency fund, which should be separate from your savings account and other investments.

4. Baby-proofing your home, car

Before you have the baby, take stock of your home and your vehicle. Is your home safe for a baby to crawl around? If anything needs to be fixed or bolted tight or boarded or added, do it before the baby comes home. Similarly, assess the safety aspect of your vehicle as well. Add up the big baby-proofing costs, and create a plan to tackle them.

5. Be mentally ready

No matter how much you prepare yourself financially, it will not bear fruit until you prepare yourself mentally for the baby. There are so many unknowns associated with starting a family, and all of them cannot be anticipated in advance. Be mentally ready for surprises and expect the unexpected. You have to be ready for all night crying, baby throwing up, the toilet mess, and much more.

Starting a family might be the best decision you ever make. Just be aware of what it takes to bring children into the world. Discuss, plan, and prepare for it, and you should be fine.

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