financial fitness for parents-to-be

Entering the world of parenthood is a time of great joy and excitement, but it can also be a time of uncertainty and stress especially on the family’s finances. Here’s how to prepare financially for parenthood.
By Child magazine

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During pregnancy, expectant parents do a great deal of research into what to expect in the various trimesters, the birthing process and how to care for the baby. But, according to John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual “financial planning is seldom prioritised when preparing for a new addition to the family. Ensuring that your finances are under control can eliminate unnecessary pressures, reduce anxiety and give new parents the confidence and peace of mind to thoroughly enjoy this new chapter in their life”.
In April 2017, Ohio State University conducted research into the effects of stress such as financial strain, depressive symptoms, pregnancy-specific distress, perceived stress and general anxiety on expectant mothers and their babies. The study revealed that experiencing any of these stress indicators during pregnancy could contribute to the baby being underweight at birth.
To ensure that you are in financial good health and remain stress-free during pregnancy, follow these guidelines:
In your first trimester
Research antenatal care options and decide where you would like to give birth. Enquire about the various costs involved including doctor’s visits and processes such as scans. Find out what antenatal care your current medical aid covers. Opt for the best medical care you can afford. If you can’t afford a medical aid, government clinics and hospitals provide this care free of charge. Cost out the essential items you will need once baby has been born. Then open a savings account and put away as much money as possible to create a robust savings cushion for your soon-to-be bundle of joy.
During second trimester
Don’t splurge on maternity clothing as it is only temporary; only purchase the necessities – a couple of dresses, tights and tunics – to see you through the nine months. If you are employed, contact your HR manager to find out about your company’s policy regarding maternity leave and benefits. Mothers are legally allowed four months off work, but most companies offer this as unpaid, not paid leave. If you qualify to claim unemployment benefits, visit your local UIF office or download the required forms to apply for your maternity benefits.
In third trimester
By this time, you should have booked your bed at the hospital or clinic of your choice. Now, start shopping for baby essentials such as clothes, nappies, a cot, a car seat and linen. Pre-loved baby items can be bought or borrowed from family, friends and forums. Chances are your friends and family will organise a baby shower for you. So before buying and possibly ending up with duplicate items or too many things, wait to see what you receive as gifts. If you can’t wait, keep your receipts in case you need to exchange or return items. Most importantly, only buy what you can afford and need. Know and stick to your budget; don’t let your excitement overtake your reasoning. Nothing beats being prepared. It gives you the freedom to enjoy this new parenting journey you have embarked on. Having a baby is expensive, but proper planning and financial discipline is the first step to your family’s financial wellbeing.

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