After having two kids Scott Pape has one major piece of advice for people planning to have their first child: save $10,000 before your baby arrives. Pape, an Australian finance guru who is helping the Australian government overhaul it’s financial education curriculum, wrote an entire blog post devoted to how expensive it is to have a child. While some of the details are different since Australia has public health care and paid maternity leave, his overall point is that with all the stress of a having a newborn, you don’t want to have to worry about money.
One of the primary differences between Pape’s advice and future parents living in the US is our medical system. According to a report by Castlight Health the average national cost for a vaginal delivery is $8,775 while the average cost for a c-section is $11,525. This is the total cost including out-of-pocket expenses by you and payments made by health insurance.
However, the report points out the price paid out-of-pocket varies widely by state and insurance. In one example, a vaginal delivery in San Francisco cost $28,541. For many, that’s more than they paid for their car. And that is only the first two days of your baby’s life. This doesn’t include the costs of diapers, bottles, a car seat, stroller, clothes, and childcare.
While it may seem impossible, Carley Roney, editor of TheNestBaby.com, also suggests saving between $5,000 and $10,000 before having your first baby precisely to cover these costs. Many first-time parents also seem to overlook the increased cost of health insurance to add a dependent, regular doctor’s visits to check the baby’s development, and loss of income due to maternity leave.
There are many suggestions for saving money after having a baby to make that baby fund last longer. Pape suggests a few himself, including searching for baby gear on eBay or ask for hand-me-downs. A quick internet search will net a lot of other suggestions, including living on your post-baby budget before the baby arrives to save money and to make sure the budget is realistic; hold off on buying a (larger) home to make sure you have a large down payment and can afford the payments comfortably; and check on your employee benefits to make sure you understand out-of-pockets costs and deductibles.
In the United States, the average cost of raising a child born in 2015 to the age of 17 is up to $233,610 according to the Department of Agriculture. That number doesn’t take into account costs like college and missed income from career delays. With childcare costs, enrichment activities like piano or baseball, and Christmas and birthday gifts, it’s no wonder at least one financial expert is advocating for saving before the baby arrives, because even if you don’t use all of that $10,000 in the first year, you’ll certainly need it for the 16 years thereafter.