New Baby Financial Checklist

New babies get people thinking in a lot of different ways. Some anticipate with nervous excitement; some with flat-out fear, some anticipate the arrival of their baby with utter exuberance. Personal finance issues probably aren’t among the first thoughts.

Since we’ve gone through this, I can honestly give some personal advice. Some of these things we learned the hard way. Some we actually did right. It’s always helpful to learn from someone else’s mistakes, so if you’re in the market for a new person, have a look.

Pre-baby

  • Check your medical insurance. Just polling friends, it’s amazing the range of coverage different plans provide. For our daughter’s birth by planned C-section, insurance paid for everything. Well, there was the $10 charge to have a phone in the room (Huh?). Look for what’s covered prenatal, for the actual delivery, and for post-delivery well baby visits – copays, deductibles, the usual stuff.
  • Visit hospitals. The nearest hospital isn’t necessarily the one where you want to have a baby. Do some research and go on tours.
  • Buy life insurance. You’ll now have a true dependent – somebody who must count on you for everything. Everything costs money these days. Even if you’re not around, it still needs to get paid for.
  • Check your benefits. If you’re adopting, lots of bigger companies (and some small ones) offer adoption assistance, sometimes a significant amount of money. If you’re doing it the old fashioned way, check with HR about FSAs, paid/unpaid time off, and short term disability.
  • Tell your boss. This is a sensitive subject for women, and I’m not a woman so I’ll just say at some point, your boss needs to know what’s going on. For me, I needed to tell my boss and coworkers because of unpaid time off to help after the birth.
  • Start saving for college. Think I’m joking? I’m not. The cost of college has been far exceeding inflation. We started saving only a few months into the pregnancy in a 529 plan. You name yourself as the beneficiary and when the little bundle gets a name, it’s a simple paperwork change.
  • Start researching child care, if appropriate. If you both plan on going back to work, you need to have arrangements for baby care. Daycare slots for newborns/infants are notoriously difficult to find.
  • Save money. Lots of it. If this is your first, you have no idea how many diapers you’ll go through. No idea.
  • Buy baby stuff. I’m not going to lie – you’ll want to buy baby stuff. Try to restraint yourself, though. I’m chagrined to say we have one child and, at last count, five strollers. We have a stroller for all occasions. Honestly, though, we didn’t know what to look for in a stroller. You’ll find out, too.

Post-baby

  • Tell the medical insurance company. You’ll want to put your new baby on your plan right away. Depending on the plan, you’ll have a certain amount of time to do this, but don’t put it off. The doctor visits for shots start at one month.
  • Get (or update) a will. Even if you have little in the way of assets, you’ll want to do this. That life insurance you bought needs a place to go if you die.
  • Decide on a guardian. Should you and your spouse both die, you need to have someone set up to raise your child in your place. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to tell the person you select. Very important.
  • Get a Social Security Card. A lot of hospitals will start this process automatically and/or give you the paperwork to take home. Just make sure it gets done. The turn-around on the actual card was surprisingly fast for us, by the way.
  • Finalize child care.
  • If returning to work, make contact and arrange for return. Your boss will need to know your plans as far as date of return, new hours, limited schedule, or other restrictions. Some workplaces are definitely not parent friendly. Those places suck. If your boss is not helpful on this now, you’ll likely run into issues later when you have to stay home with a sick child or leave early because their school is closing early because of snow.

Oh, yeah, enjoy your new baby. That’s important, too.