A pre-baby financial checklist can make all the difference to new mums, writes Sally Patten.
For the majority of women, having a baby is one of life’s magical moments. It is also a moment that brings new responsibilities, including those of the financial variety.
Ideally, planning for a baby in financial terms should start a year, or even two years, before birth to ensure there is enough money tucked away to cover maternity leave and that other arrangements, such as life insurance, are in place.
Being prepared will help mothers to revel in their newborns as they should. “If you are stressed about money, the experience is not as enjoyable as it should be,” says Kellie Payne of RI Advice Group Caloundra.
In the early planning stages, it is important to investigate how much money you can expect to receive through work entitlements and the government’s parental-leave pay scheme. Taking into account your expected income, the amount of time you plan to take off, your current expenses and any additional expenses that come with having a baby will enable you to figure out what the shortfall might be and how much you need to save ahead of time.
“Be prepared for additional medical and pharmacy costs for both you and the baby,” warns Payne.
Adele Martin of Firefly Wealth recommends opening a separate bank account for parental expenses, or better still, put the money into a separate mortgage offset account.
Check your insurance levels
In the case of health insurance, not all contracts cover pregnancy and baby-related services and if you do need to raise your level of cover, a 12-month waiting period will typically apply.
If you want to be covered by private health insurance for pregnancy “you’ll need to be on a health cover that includes pregnancy at least three months before you start trying to fall pregnant”, warns health insurer nib health funds.
Having a child is also an ideal time to look at your life insurance, which may pay a sum of money in the event of death, and income-protection policies, which may pay a regular sum of money in the event of serious illness or injury. Both can be critical when there is a baby or child who will need providing for if something happens to you.
Finding the right life insurance and income-protection policies is no mean feat and advice is recommended.
Strategies for Life Queensland financial adviser Tanaya Bendall says in terms of income-protection policies, would-be mothers should consider whether the policy will pay an agreed amount without having to show proof of income.
Martin notes that many insurance companies won’t insure pregnant women after the last trimester because they are viewed as higher risk.
A convenient way to increase insurance levels may be through superannuation, because this won’t have any impact on your cash-flow levels.
Finally, Martin believes women should not ignore superannuation during this time. She suggests investigating whether they are eligible for various super contribution allowances, such as the government co-contribution and spouse contributions while they’re not working or working part-time.
How a baby changed Emily’s financial outlook
A lot changed for Emily Shields when she had her first child, not least her financial outlook. The embryologist knew she did not want to go back to work full-time.
“I wanted to be able to spend that time with Evie. But it also makes you think about being able to provide for her,” says the 37-year-old. “We were lucky when we were kids that we never had to want for anything, and I want to be able to provide that for Evie.”
Shields was in a fortunate position: her partner Sam could support them. He had just started his own financial-planning company when Evie was born, and Shields was able to take a year’s maternity leave from her position at one of Melbourne’s leading IVF clinics.
She extended this leave by becoming a home-based sales rep for a health and beauty company for six months. Now back at work two-and-a-half days a week, Shields is pleased to have resumed her career, knowing Evie is well looked after.
“All I knew was that I didn’t want her going into childcare,” says Shields. “It’s been easy knowing she’s going to family and Sam’s aunt can work around us with times and dates.”
The immediate financial plan is to continue working part-time while keeping a long-held investment property “ticking over” until they are ready to buy a house.
“We’re quite happy with a public primary school but I’d like Evie to go to a private school for high school if we have the money.”
Case study: Natasha Hughes
This article is part of a series published in the Sydney Morning Heraldand The Age called Her Money, that aims to help women take control of their financial futures. This series has been created in partnership with ANZ.