Overcoming the financial fears of motherhood
The journey of motherhood can be exciting, exhausting, and terrifying all at the same time. Kids will test your resilience, and your patience and boy will they test your bank account.
The financial pressures of providing for your family now, saving for the future, being a present parent, and maintaining your financial independence can feel like an impossible juggle, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this guide, we share a few of our top tips for how you can navigate the financial impact of having children (as well as the fear and vulnerability that comes along with it).
Step 1. Get clear on what is most important
The key to navigating your finances successfully is to first take the time to understand what you value as well as what fears and concerns you have about the future.
Some things to consider are:
What do you value?
What do you want to make room for
What are you worried about?
What do you need to feel financially safe?
What role do you want to play as a parent?
What support do you need?
How will you share the mental load?
How much parental leave do you wish to take?
How will you manage your money during unpaid leave (if you keep a separate bank account from your spouse)?
Take advantage of the time you have before the baby comes to give serious consideration to these questions. If you are in a relationship, having open and honest conversations about your needs and priorities will help you to get on the same page and avoid future arguments.
Step 2. Set some lifestyle goals
Once you have identified your needs and values, it is time to set some short- and long-term lifestyle goals that are aligned with them. Try to be as clear and specific as you can be by:
Naming each goal
Assigning a dollar value to it
Setting a timeframe for achieving it
Step 3. Align your cash flow with your goals
Now that you are clear on what you want to achieve, it is time to direct your money in that direction.
Start by taking a look at your goals and determining how much money you need to set aside each pay in order to achieve them.
Check your bank statements and tally up your living expenses.
Do you have enough income to meet your current and future needs?
Can you pay the bills and achieve your goals at the same time?
If yes, set up your automated transfers into your savings account.
If not, it’s time to start making space in your budget by reducing those expenses that aren’t aligned with your values and triaging your goals.
Some simple ways that you can create extra breathing room in your budget can be:
Living off one income while you are both still working
Buying second-hand goods
Staggering baby-related purchases (you don’t need to buy it all at once!)
Getting a better deal on your bills
Once you have established a spending plan, finding a simple system that works for you and automating your savings wherever possible will make it easier to stick to it. Some tips to help you do this are:
Setting up an automated transfer to your savings account each pay
Transferring a weekly spending allowance into a separate account
Paying your bills by direct debit (also known as bill smoothing)
Remember, there is no one size fits all way to manage your bank accounts. Whatever system you feel most comfortable with is the one to use.
Step 4. Prepare a backup plan
Take advantage of the time you have before the baby arrives to get all the important paperwork out of the way. While it’s a daunting thought now, you will sleep much better knowing this has been taken care of. Of particular importance are:
Wills, POA, Guardianship - Establishing or updating the following will mean that your wishes are carried out and your family is protected in case the unthinkable happens.
Powers of attorney
Deciding on preferred guardians for your child/ren
Personal insurances - With a baby comes another mouth to feed and additional pressure on you to provide for your little one. Now is the time to make sure your backup plan is in place, which means not just having some emergency savings but also having insurance in case you or your partner are unable to work for an extended period of time for medical reasons. This means understanding:
Cover you have in your super
Cover provided by your employer,
Other options are available to protect your family.
For women, it is essential to consider obtaining a Critical Illness and Income Protection Cover before the baby arrives due to medical conditions such as postnatal depression that can later develop and affect your ability to get insurance in the future.
Step 4. Think Long Term
A common trap parents fall into is leaving the long-term and big picture decisions until later. The challenge is that life with kids will quickly go into autopilot mode, and your big picture plans can often fall by the wayside. While goals like saving up for school fees, paying off your mortgage, or growing your super may feel like they are in the distant future, the sooner you begin to plan for them the easier they will be to achieve without putting added financial strain on your budget.
For women, it is essential to also consider how you plan to preserve their financial independence if you intend to take a step back from work. There can be a range of options available to you, including strategies for keeping your CV current (such as volunteering) and preserving your super (such as contribution splitting, salary sacrificing, and taking advantage of available tax offsets and government incentives).
Becoming a parent is not without its worries and financial pressures. The best antidote to dealing with financial anxiety and fears about the future is to tackle them head on. The sooner you are clear on your financial needs and priorities, the sooner you can formulate a plan to achieve them while also putting together a backup plan to help you sleep better at night. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all alone. With our tools and experience at your disposal we may not be able to make your baby sleep through the night, but we can certainly help you sleep – like a baby.
Book a complimentary phone call and have a chat with an expert financial advisor about your personal financial planning needs.
What you need to know
This information is provided and produced by Serendipity Wealth Advisors. The advice provided is general advice only. In preparing this article we did not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Before making an investment decision on the basis of this advice, you should consider how appropriate the advice is to your particular investment needs, and objectives. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision relating to a financial product