Written by Mary Green
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was just delighted to be finally on my way to being a mum after six years of (expensive) IVF treatment. I had no idea how expensive the resulting darling son would be and continue to be once he arrived. A report by the child action poverty group estimates that each child adds a basic cost over 18 years being £71,611 for a couple and £97,862 for a lone parent with the full costs being £152,747 for a couple and £185,410 for a lone parent. You can add in another £300,000 plus if you plan on a private education for your child.
So, what are the top five tips for making sure you are financially ready for a family (the emotional and sleep deprivation are outside of my remit!)
Have you got enough room for a child in your current house?
You don’t have to have a mansion but having a room to move them into when you finally get them out of your bedroom is helpful and then there is storing the endless equipment and monstrous amounts of plastic toys and cute outfits.
I’d suggest not to change jobs or go self-employed if you decide to move home to start a family. In order to get a mortgage, as a business you need to show at least two full years accounts and for an employed job, over 6 months of payslips is a must.
Will maternity or shared parental leave payments be enough to cover your costs while you are not working?
Some firms will give enhanced maternity or paternity leave payments. Check your firm’s criteria as there can sometimes be different amounts payable or even exclusions depended on your length of service. Statutory maternity pay is a pretty measly £151.97 a week for 39 weeks or 90% of your average weekly earnings whichever is lower there is the added option of shared parental leave you can share 37 weeks of paid leave at £151.97 a week. This gives extra flexibility around who will be the primary caregiver during your baby’s first months. If you need to save, consider a tax efficient ISA so that any growth is not liable to tax.
Will you both be going back to full time work?
My husband and I decided that in an ideal world we would both go back to work part-time. After years of IVF we both wanted to be around for the children. It’s worth having a discussion around whether you both want or need to go back full-time. It has traditionally been women who take the hit with their career taking the back seat to childcare but it’s worth exploring if there is a compromise to be had.
Who will look after your child when you go back to work?
If you are lucky enough to have family who are willing and able to step in that’s fab, but most of us need to use a nursery or a childminder. Make sure you book your child in early and be aware that some places will charge a deposit to hold their place. It’s worth looking at the criteria for tax free childcare. If you qualify the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay towards qualifying childcare. There is also help available through Universal Credit and the 15 and 30 hour-free childcare schemes.
Will you be able to manage if something happens to one of you?
It is not only the main breadwinner you need to think of. Make sure you have both parties covered for serious illness and death. You need to think about how you would cover your essential bills and remember that if one partner looks after the children that you would need to cover the equivalent childcare costs. It is also a good time to either make a will or update a current one.
There are some helpful links for generic advice below but remember there will never be a perfect time to have children; but a good plan can go a long way in easing your mind and letting you enjoy the baby snuggles when they arrive.