How to Afford a Baby

What is more expensive than a house yet weighs only about seven pounds? A: A baby.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family will spend more than $250,000 to raise a child. And that total does not include private schools, infertility treatments, or special lessons. College costs alone can add another $100,000 to $300,000.

Clearly, if money were the only factor, our population growth would come skidding to a halt. Although the joys and rewards of parenting can't be measured in dollars, it's important to prepare for the financial impact of having a baby. Here is a checklist for before and just after you bring a baby into your family.

Insurance

Review your health insurance to make sure pregnancy checkups, the delivery and new baby care are adequately covered. Sometimes an HMO or Preferred Provider (PPO) health insurance will cover well-baby visits and checkups while the traditional 80-20 plans won't. If you opt for an HMO or PPO, check to see if your physicians and hospital are on the list and the list of providers remains stable.

If you have recently switched jobs or need to get your own insurance, make sure pre-existing conditions are covered. Don't forget to add your baby to your health insurance policy as soon as she is born.

The time to get disability insurance (if your employer doesn't provide it) is before you get pregnant. Most policies will cover pregnancy complications, but read the fine print. Check the waiting period, definition of disability and duration of benefits in addition to the amount of the benefit. You may wish to supplement an employer-provided policy with your own.

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