Make a BUDGET
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates it can cost as much as $184,000 to raise a baby from birth to the age of 17.*
Your pregnancy is a good time to evaluate your finances and adjust your budget to make room for baby.
Step 1: Determine how much income you and your spouse bring home in one month. Include alimony or other payments you receive regularly. If one spouse plans to stop working, figure your budget using the income of the working spouse.
Step 2: Subtract all expenses such as rent, groceries, insurance, credit card bills, utilities, loans, health club memberships, gasoline, alimony, etc.
Step 3: Subtract costs you will incur for baby supplies like diapers, formula, clothing, and college contributions. You should expect to pay about $20 a week for diapers, and an additional $25 to $50 a week for formula.
Step 4: Subtract any day care costs you will incur (if applicable). Depending on where you live, day care costs start at about $400 per month and go up to $700 or more.
Step 5: Total the amounts. You now have an estimate of your monthly budget. Use this figure to make any plans.
Many families would like to have one parent stay home with a child but don't think they can live without a second income. If this is your desire, figure your budget twice. Use two incomes the first time and one income the second time. And, be sure to remove your daycare expense from the one-income budget. You may be surprised.
* Jean Chatzky, Financial Editor, Today Show. MSNBC.com web site (www.msnbc.msn.com). July 26, 2006.