Nothing changes your life more than being a new parent. Welcoming an adorable baby into the world can be a unique and stressful experience. However, forcing sleep-deprived adults to make many financial decisions in a short period is a wreck waiting to happen, such as:
- What newborn baby items do I need?
- When should I start saving for my child’s college education?
- How will I keep track of all our documents?
It can be a lot to think about, especially when a little one is counting on you to love, provide for them, and cherish every moment.
Becoming a New Parent In a Foreign Country
In the most populated cities in the world, life had a simple routine, with new adventures to explore. However, everything changed when I saw those two straight lines on my pregnancy test.
Most women find out their pregnant, give birth, and raise a child. I did all these things, but I did one of these things differently; I gave birth in a foreign country, Japan.
When I went to my first doctor’s appointment, the Japanese government gave me a handbook. Inside the handbook had coupons to pay for my doctor’s appointments, a key chain to notify people that I was pregnant, and several pages of doctor’s notes to track my progress.
This handbook was the key to covering all my healthcare expenses, such as prenatal doctor’s appointments, prenatal tests, and labor and delivery. Unlike many Americans, I didn’t have to worry about paying off my hospital bills.
When I delivered our daughter, the Japanese government assisted in paying for a five-night stay in the hospital. During this time, nurses took care of our daughter during the night, monitored my health, and taught me how to take care of a newborn.
This experience gave me the confidence to go home healthy and well prepared to take care of our newborn daughter.
From an American Mom who gave birth in Japan, here are some of my financial tips and new ideas for new parents.
How Did Mothers Survive 20+ Years Ago?
I over-compensated my lack of knowledge by watching Youtube videos and reading blogs in my first year. Unfortunately, the best advice for new parents was usually a list of essential items you need for your newborn.
I started to question myself, “If I need all these products, how did mothers survive 20-plus years ago when these products did not exist to raise happy kids?”
List The Things Your Baby Needs
Society peer pressures us into buying all these unnecessary newborn products when we only need a select few. So instead of focusing on the list of baby items influencers recommend, list the things your baby will need daily such as diapers, wipes, and onesies.
It is unlikely that your young child will remember your beautiful nursery wall or the baby toys they enjoyed. So, enjoy every moment and save money while your child is young and can’t remember. Then, one day, as your child gets older, they will appreciate your financial stability.
Make Sure Your Documents Are Accessible
After I got out of the hospital after giving birth, my daughter’s paperwork started to pile up. Between the Japanese and United States documents, I felt overwhelmed and unable to track where I placed all of our documents.
As unorganized as this seems, putting all my paperwork in a cloth shopping bag made it convenient. Even though I had to search through the bag every time I needed an important document, I knew that none of the documents would be lost.
If you do not have a paperwork filing system in the first six months after giving birth, give yourself some slack, and don’t be worried. You may make mistakes. As long as the documents are accessible to you later, you can organize all your documents at your earliest convenience.
Pay Your Bills On Autopilot
With sleep deprivation, post-partum pains, and juggling being a new parent, the last thing on my mind was paying my bills while waiting for the baby to fall asleep. No first time parent wants to wake up at night wondering if they paid their water bill.
Do yourself a favor and set up your bills to automatic payments. Setting up an automated payment system will offload one less thing off your plate and help you to focus on what is most important to you.
For example, for bills that you can’t set up as automatic payments, set up reminders on your phone or put posted notes on your refrigerator.
The first months with a newborn will be challenging, and you might miss a bill payment. Be gentle to yourself and find ways to correct it for the future.
Used Baby Items Doesn’t Mean Stained Or Torn
When we moved back to the United States from Japan, all our stuff fit into two suitcases. Starting from scratch allowed me to purchase and explore what baby products we needed.
As new parents, there’s a stigma around buying used items. However, another of my favorite parenting tips is that purchasing used items doesn’t mean they are heavily stained or torn. I found that many parents would receive a baby product as a gift, use it once, and never use it again.
As a new mom, I purchased all my major baby items on the Facebook marketplace. Then, I negotiated with the marketplace sellers so that when my daughter grew out of the products, I could upsell them.
Another resource for finding baby and toddler items is the Buy Nothing Facebook group. These local groups provide people with a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a network of local gift economies.
Before going to the store, I ask the Buy Nothing group if anyone has that item lying around their home.
Set Financial Goals For Your Family
Becoming a family unit started with reviewing our finances and reevaluating our financial goals. After researching the FIRE movement, my husband and I decided that we wanted to save and invest our money now so that we can have the work flexibility to spend more time as a family.
Even though becoming financially independent isn’t for every family, setting your financial goals for your family is key to understanding your “why” and becoming a better parent.
Without financial goals, you may feel like you are working so hard to make a change but not getting anywhere. Therefore, creating a list of all your financial goals is vital to creating a clear picture of what you’re working towards.
Prepare A Will
As a new parent, your child is dependent on you to survive. So if something unfortunate happens to my husband and me, we have a plan to ensure that our child will continue to be taken care of.
One of the things a will can do is allow you to indicate who you would like to serve as a guardian for your child. We put a lot of thought into choosing our guardians. Some of the things we considered were age, health, lifestyle, values, and financial stability.
Working with an estate attorney helped solidify our estate plan so there were no gaps or errors that could potentially hurt our family. When choosing an estate attorney, consider their fees and experience. While interviewing estate planners, choose someone with that you feel comfortable divulging your personal information on an ongoing basis.
Every first-time parent wants what’s best for their child. In many cultures, being a good parent means saving for your child’s college education.
Evaluate Your Long-Term Goals
Before running to open a 529 account, evaluate your long-term goals for your child. Saving for your child’s future doesn’t mean that the only option is to save for their college education. Parents can also allocate their money towards helping with a home downpayment, buying a car, or paying for the wedding, wedding suits, dresses, etc.
Work With a Financial Planner
If you need help organizing your goals or how much you need to save each month, reach out to a financial planner and ask questions. Working with a financial planner can give you a comprehensive view of your current financial situation and advise you on how to move forward in your financial journey. In addition, it seems like everyone is willing to give parenting advice.
Unfortunately, your financial situation is likely to be more complex than you think. Because of this, you may receive financial advice from friends and family that is incorrect or doesn’t pertain to your goals and values.
Working with a financial advisor can ease stress and help you focus on the people who mean the most to you.