a thirty-two week baby-bump photo, from a couple weeks ago

So, honestly... I am a bit leary about bringing up the topic of money. I was raised being told that it's not very polite to talk about it, and it can be one of those topics that we like to avoid with most people. However, when it comes to preparing for a new baby, I feel it is one of the practical things that must be thought about at some point. 

Chloe was a surprise pregnancy. I know some people scratch their heads when you call a pregnancy a surprise - like, "you know what happens when you... you know...". Yes, yes. However, one doesn't always think that, that ONE time, when you mess up your birth control, that has worked for you for the past however-many years, that you are going to get pregnant. When we found out we were having Chloe, our first reaction was laughter. We were excited, scared, surprised... so many things. And then eventually we began to talk about money...

We are lucky enough to both be employed with pretty solid careers. We had already bought a house when we found out we were expecting. I would have a twelve week, paid, maternity leave. We both worked a bit of overtime to set aside a little extra money - just in case. We were given so so much by our families and friends. In short, financially, we were really lucky.

This time around, we are still very lucky, but our circumstances are a bit different: we were trying to get pregnant and I no longer work full-time at the nursing-gig (which means no paid-vacation, sick-time, or paid maternity leave!). So we did a bit of planning. Here's a few things that we have done to prepare, that might help as you prepare your family, and your wallet, for having a new little one:

1 / Set up a baby fund - How we did this was by figuring out how much our expenses are monthly, and then figuring out what half of that is (I usually am able to pay for about half of our expenses), then multiplying it for however many months you expect to be unpaid. Because I do not get a paid maternity leave this time around, and I do not plan on working as much, when I do go back the second time around, we tried to put away as much as we could. Tax returns, and any surplus cash that we have been lucky enough to come across, since we had Chloe, has been put away into this fund in order to prepare. It hasn't been easy to do this - it has meant not taking vacations and going without buying stuff that would be fun to buy, but we know that we will be happier in the long run if i can be home more without stressing about how those bills will get paid.

2 / Try to get rid of some debt - One of the things I wish I had been doing a better job of, before I had Chloe, was reducing my debt. Like many, I have some student debt... and it's a drag. I wish I had thought to reduce it before I cut back on how much I working when I had Chlo. After I had Chloe, and returned to working, I also returned to school, paying both out of my pocket and with some loans. After I got my degree and we started talking about having another baby, I knew I needed to do something about my student loan payments. So I started throwing every spare cent on my loans to get rid of as much debt as possible. Chris helped me with this as well, and we were able to get rid of more than two-thirds of my student debt. One website I found very helpful and inspirational was/is "And Then We Saved". I followed a lot of the principles of "the spending fast" and "the spending diet" and surprised myself with how much I was able to save in order to pay off debt. It wasn't always fun, but now I have a smaller amount of debt, that I feel I will be able to pay off in the not-so-distant future... and well, that feels really good.

3 / Buy Less - you might feel that you need to drop a big wad of cash on a whole bedroom set for your new little one, or that you need a swing, and a bouncer, and a carrier, and a rocker, and a whole lot of other things that shake your offspring around and end in -er, but you find out quickly that you really don't. In fact, a whole lot of the things that I had, I hardly ever used. They didn't get opened, or their clutter-factor beat out their usefullness-factor. Babies do not require a whole bunch of stuff - really a lot less than you think they do. I plan to put together a list of baby essentials to share on here shortly (for the meantime this list by Mother is pretty good - I say it is still a bit too much), but I will tell you now that I wish I hadn't acquired so much stuff before I had Chloe, and just bought things as I went along. It would have saved me a lot of money and space. 

4 / Think and plan about how your time will be spent after having the baby - They said that time is money, and quickly after I had Chloe I realized it is my most valuable resource. Although I love my career, and wasn't ready to give it up completely after I had a baby, I knew I didn't want to spend as much time as I had working... but I still had to be paid, and at the same time I wanted to be home with my baby. The husband and I are lucky enough to both be shift-workers, and I was lucky enough to be able to cut-back my work status and take on a per-diem schedule (meaning that I work on an as-needed basis... and luckily ER nurses are pretty much always needed where I work!). This was a little hairy at first. I breast-fed Chloe up until fifteen months, and going to work meant pumping, as well as my husband caring for a baby that was used to being breast-fed, and didn't find the bottle to be quite as soothing or sleep-inducing ;) I got a few frustrated phone calls in the beginning from that husband of mine who was scared that our child may never stop crying, or that he was doing something wrong, or that our daughter may hate him, already.  None of these things were true, but our little one did seem to prefer having her milk-source mama around, and we both have realized that the house runs a lot smoother when I am here. I am not saying that my husband is bad around the house - he is great with Chloe, and the man works hard, but he might not enjoy the practical aspects of homemaking as I do - and there is nothing wrong with that. This time around we thought more about who will spend more time at home with the babes, and how this will affect both of our work schedules. There will still be times where I work outside the home, but less than I used to, and less over-night shifts for sure. If staying at home is not feasible for your family - talking about how you will manage child care in your family, and the money you might need to spend on child care is important to prepare for.

These are a few of the big things we have done when preparing for another little one. Hopefully they are helpful, or at least good food for thought.  Also, if anyone has anything to add to this - please leave a comment. I am always looking for tips.


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