For many people, having a child is one of life’s greatest joys. And if you’re a financially sound parent, hopefully you asked yourself this important question before coming face to face with your bundle of joy: Can we afford it?
According to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 ($301,970 adjusted for projected inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child-rearing expenses over the next 17 years. Those costs can quickly add up if you decide to have another baby (or more).
Remember, all of the pre-birth expenses that you were on the hook for before the birth of your first child still apply to your second. There are doctor visits and ultrasounds you’ll have to pay for (depending on your insurance). Luckily, you can save on items like baby books and maternity wear. And of course, baby gear.
[Related: How to Prepare Your Finances for a New Baby]
Before you consider having a second child, you should first take stock of your current financial situation. Consider these questions:
- How much debt do you currently owe?
- How will having a second child affect your finances in the short term? In the long term?
- How will having another child change your lifestyle?
- Can you afford to take maternity leave?
- Who will watch the kids if you and your mate both plan to work?
- Can you reuse baby gear (or is your firstborn still using it)?
- Can your household budget afford another body?
- Do you have enough space for another child? If not, can you afford to move?
- If you’re putting money away for college, can you afford to save for another kid?
Here are a few tips to prepare yourself financially for a second child:
Establish a new budget
Make no doubt about it, having a second child will cost you more money. Hopefully you’re keeping a budget of your expenses already. Add to that budget all the costs associated with having a second child, including diapers, new baby items, etc. Calculate the financial impact that a second child will have on your pocketbook. See where you can cut back in other areas of your budget.
Chances are that you’ve bought (or received) some really good baby gear because of the birth of your first child. Unless you’ve waited years and years to have a second baby, all that stuff is still good enough for baby No. 2. Clothes, baby monitors, and some toys should be safe for your second baby to use. When it comes to things like car seats or cribs, though, be sure to check for expiration dates and product recalls. If you have doubts, buy new. Your child’s safety trumps all.
Rethink new purchases
Before buying new items for your first child, think about their durability. Can the item in question potentially be passed onto your second child? You’ll get more bang for your buck if you purchase things that you can “hand down” to your second child.
Plan out and prepare meals
Meal time can sometimes be crazy time when you have multiple mouths to feed. Prepare food in advance that you can freeze. Buy bulk items. You might find comfort in planning meals ahead.
Buy in bulk
Because you’ve already experienced raising a newborn, you know how much you’ll be spending on baby items like diapers or formula. So be sure to watch out for deals and buy in bulk when possible.
Get your first kid adjusted
Your first child may experience a wide range of emotions knowing that he or she is going to have a sibling. Your firstborn might feel jealousy, misbehave, or throw tantrums. These behaviors can tire you out and cost you valuable time. Prepare your little one by emphasizing the important role that an older sibling plays. Let him or her pick out items for the newborn’s room, devote special time to your firstborn, and talk about what to expect when the second baby arrives.
Consider child care
Who currently watches your firstborn if both you and your mate work? Can you afford to pay more for childcare? Chances are you will get a discount for enrolling two kids into childcare, but it’s still an increased expense. Would family members be able to help?
Don’t forget when you file your taxes that you will be eligible for a number of benefits because you have a second child.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Friends and family members can help you ease into the experience of having a second child, so invite them to. You don’t have to do it all on your own.