No matter how many pregnancy and parenting books you read, nothing can truly prepare you for becoming a parent.
But one thing you can do is get your finances in order.
As part one of our two-part series on preparing for a new baby, here’s a guide to what to expect (financially) when you’re expecting.
Set up costs
These are the costs of kitting out your nursery with the basics: a cot, mattress, linen, change table and nappies. You’ll also want to factor in maternity and breastfeeding clothes, baby clothes, nappies and linen. A pram, car seat and baby carrier can also be costly investments.
How much this costs all depends on your taste, preferences and willingness to buy second-hand.
Your insurances (particularly health and life insurance) are also likely to become more expensive as your family grows.
These will depend on your health insurance policy, whether you plan to have your baby in a private or public hospital, and the individual circumstances around the birth.
“When it comes to the health of the baby and the mother – that’s a big unknown,” says Fernando, the father of a two-year-old.
There may be unexpected costs associated with complications, a medical condition that requires you to stop work early, or the baby arriving early.
That said, the major expenses you can expect with all pregnancies are doctors’ fees, hospital bills, tests and ultrasounds.
To avoid bill shock, check what Medicare and your insurer cover, and request estimates from healthcare providers.
You should also expect additional pharmacy and medical costs within the first year – for you and the baby – including check-ups and immunisations.
Time off work
The time that mum and dad take off work – be it a few weeks, or a few years – can amount to a significant initial cost in terms of foregone income and superannuation.
That may be offset if you’re eligible to receive 18 weeks’ federal government paid parental leave, or if your employer offers a paid parental leave policy.
Costs down the track
Research suggests it costs a middle-income family at least $812,000 to raise two children to the age of 24, or over $1 million for high-income families1.
Big cost components are child care, education housing and transport.
For a child born in 2018, the average Australian school education of 12-13 years will cost between $40,000 and $500,0002 – depending on whether they go to a public or private school.
“People just assume that a public education is not going to cost them too much but then you think about all the additional things – school uniforms, books, transport and extra curricular activities – it all adds up very quickly,” says Fernando.
The federal government’s New Child Care Package (coming into effect on 2 July 2018) will allow parents to pay child care providers a gap fee.
For eligible low-income working families, the average assistance will cover 85% of actual fees charged. The subsidy will taper back to nothing for families on $350,000 or more.
Housing and transport
Aside from the energy and maintenance costs of keeping your family home and car up and running, a growing family can have a big impact on upgrade costs.
“If in 5-15 years you’ve gone to a family of four people. Is the current car and home enough in terms of size and space?” Fernando prompts.
In part two of our series on what to expect (financially) when you’re expecting, we will walk you through the steps you can take to prepare to meet these new expenses.
These will include budgeting and saving, reassessing your goals, exploring available financial supports and superannuation options.
New costs checklist: