There is no magic amount of money you need to have saved or specific income level you must achieve in order to consider yourself financially ready to have children.
However, there are a few key areas you’ll want to have together before you start on the path to parenthood, whether you’re a first-year or have reached partner level.
Obviously, having stable employment when bringing a new person into the world is a good idea. But what does stable employment really look like? None of us knows what could happen next month or next year, but if you’re lawyering at a reasonably healthy firm and your partner also has a job they feel confident about, you’re probably fine. If one of you is freelancing and doesn’t always have a steady, predictable income, the other is going to have to be able to comfortably cover all the expenses for the entire family when times are lean. Traditional employers also provide benefits like health insurance, retirement accounts, and paid time off, so be extra careful with coverage of those things if one half of the would-be-parent duo is not employed full time.
Speaking of healthcare, having robust health insurance is a must when starting a family. Pregnancy, childbirth, and young children require a gazillion appointments. If your insurance is lacking, you’ll end up busting your budget on basic care, not to mention any emergencies that may come up. Analyze your health plan to get an idea of what is covered and what isn’t, so you’ll know what to expect.
How are your budgeting skills? You should have a set, comfortable budget that allows you to save for emergencies, retirement, college, and potential job loss—while being able to cover the monthly living expenses for your expanding family.
Is there flexibility in your budget? With children comes the unexpected, so you’ll not only need savings, but the ability to make a sacrifice in one area for another. And of course, you need to be able to avoid debt as much as possible.
When we talk about financial fitness and proper budgeting, one of the most important parts of that is saving. You should already be saving in a retirement account, and you might have some money set aside for emergencies, but do you have a few months’ worth of cash set aside in case of job loss or some sort of unpaid absence? Experts suggest having three to six months’ worth of earnings in a savings account or other easily accessible account.
Another reason to build up your savings while you’re planning to have a child is the fact that you can’t predict any roadblocks to actually getting pregnant. Anyone can have fertility issues, and treatment can become quite expensive. If you have the flexibility and the savings to devote to getting assistance with becoming pregnant, that’ll be one less thing you’ll have to worry about.
Childcare will be the biggest expense you’ll encounter while your child is young, so prepare for it as early as possible. Since childcare costs vary greatly depending on location, speak to friends and family who live in your area to get an idea about what you can expect to pay for the available options.
Which financial steps do you need to take to get ready for parenthood? How are your budgeting skills? Do you have savings? Do you feel stable in your employment? Is your healthcare sufficient? Work on whichever areas are lacking.