Many professional women fear the prospect of becoming pregnant due to financial pressures. It's not uncommon in the modern world to find women who are the highest income earners in their household which begs the question: how can you afford to have a baby and maintain your lifestyle? The answer to this question will depend on your individual circumstances, however no matter what those circumstances are, this is definitely an area that can be worked through if you're prepared to spend some time planning ahead for your pregnancy and beyond.
For those finance professionals out there, I encourage you to resist the urge to jump ahead and build yourself a discounted cash flow model about pregnancy! Before we jump to specific financials, there are some key questions you will want to ask yourself:
1. What pregnancy-related costs will you be up for? There will certainly be a number of appointments that you need to attend with various medical practitioners such for ultra-sounds as well as phased check-ups with your doctor. The costs of these medical visits will vary for each specialist and will also depend on whether you choose to give birth in a public or private hospital. You may also want to consider the possible cost of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) services.
2. What items will you need to purchase for your baby? The best place to start with this question is to ask other first-time mothers about their experiences. Some of the most common essentials include:
- Baby wraps
- Bath products
- Change table
- Nappy rash cream
Baby stores will also give you plenty of ideas however it might help to come up with your own shortlist and approximate budget before you spend your life savings on baby products! For more budget conscious women, it can certainly help to be open minded about using pre-loved items that friends and family may pass on to you.
3. How long do you plan to stay at home? While some of you may love the idea of staying at home for your baby's first year, other professional women will be itching to get back into the workforce. Whatever your preference, it's important to develop a plan for staying at home or returning to work. You may want to consider the following:
- How much paid and unpaid maternity leave does your company offer?
- Where will your income come from during your time off?
- Will financial support be available from a spouse or partner?
- Does your employer offer flexible working arrangements (part-time, job share)
- Do you have any other sources of income outside of your job? Some examples may include income from the sale of assets or stocks or even drawing down on your home mortgage. You may even want to explore options for generating an income from home.
Now that you've covered off on some of the finance basics in preparation for pregnancy, it's time to pull out your notepad and calculator or your Excel spreadsheet. You will want to start two versions of your household budget:
- Version 1: your current household budget including all sources of income and your current expenses.
- Version 2: an extended version of your household budget that excludes the income from your job and includes your new baby-related expenses.
It is advisable to set up your budget by month over a one year period. This way, you will be able to capture expenses that occur in one particular month of the year, such as various insurance premiums and you will also be able to work out the number of months that you can afford to stay at home.
If you'd like to take this further and you've got a bit of financial modeling experience under your belt, why not develop your own pregnancy cash flow model to compare the results of various stay-at-home or return-to-work scenarios? If you're not a numbers person, why not ask a colleague to help you out or make an appointment to see your accountant and ask them to run the scenarios for you.
Developing a robust budget can help you to plan for the financial aspect of your pregnancy and can also help you to manage your general household finances. Now that you know how to get your finances under control during your pregnancy, you can focus your attention on becoming pregnant and embracing motherhood as it is guaranteed to be one of the most rewarding stages of your life.