By: Wesley Hurlock
I can remember the morning when my wife found out she was pregnant. We hugged and celebrated the fact that our lives would change forever. As I reflected on the wonderful news that I was going to be father, I immediately began to worry. How were we going to afford getting all the items we needed for our new child? What was our budget going to look like now? When and how were we supposed to start saving for our baby’s future? Let’s face it: It can be difficult to start putting away a few extra dollars before being a parent becomes a reality. If you’re a mom- or dad-to-be and find yourself asking the same questions I did, here are a few tips to get you on the right track.
Choose Your Baby Registry Wisely
Create your registry at a place that gives you the biggest bang for your buck. The retailer I chose is giving me 10% cash back for any registry items that I purchase myself or that anyone else purchases from the registry. Ten days after the baby’s due date, the retailer will give me a gift card with my earned cash-back rewards that I can use for purchasing other items. As an added bonus, I get a 10% off coupon for anything on the registry that isn’t purchased by me or someone else. (This creates more incentive to scan as many items as you want when creating the registry.) They also price match; so if I find anything cheaper either online or at another retailer, they will honor the lower price at the store where I’m registered. Now that’s what I call saving!
Make Adjustments to Your Budget
This may be long overdue, but now truly is the best time to get it done. Identify where your bad spending habits are, and change them before your baby changes them for you. Letting go of those bad habits today will be less painful then when the baby comes along, and it will benefit both you and your child.
I took it upon myself to schedule a time and date when my wife and I would look at our budget and identify areas where we could save. (Yes, I actually marked it on our calendar and committed to it.) The biggest money-spending culprit we found: fast food and ordering out. After eliminating those from our budget, we’re now saving an average of $200 to $400 a month. The key was cutting out the breakfasts-on-the-run (no more $4 coffee and doughnuts), takeout dinners (food prep the day or weekend before is critical) and those instant gratifications that we would later end up regretting (like vending machines and gas station stores). Not only are we saving more cash; we’re also eating healthier. Talk about a win-win!
Need some help getting started? VyStar offers free financial counseling services and online tools that help you create and maintain your budget.
Open a Savings Account That Meets Your Needs
After I read the financial chapters of my parenting books for first-time fathers, I can tell you I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. The main objective I determined was this: It is important for you to set a financial goal and then choose an account that best suits what you are saving your money for (e.g., child’s college education, down payment on a car, medical expenses, etc.). You can find many resources online and at your local financial institution that will help you become familiar with your savings options for your little one.
After doing some research, we found that the salary we make, the accounts that are in our child’s name, and the assets we have will all factor into what scholarships, grants and benefits our child can receive later on. So, my wife and I scheduled a sit-down with one of VyStar's financial coaches, who helped us develop a plan that will meet the financial goals we have for our child. You can make an appointment too by visiting any VyStar branch near you. In short, it’s important to do your research and go to a trusted source for information on what to do next. Find what works for you and start from there.
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. All new accounts are subject to approval.