Think back to before you were a mom. Remember how you’d purchase a latte or a new pair of shoes without batting an eye? How you used to grab drinks after work without feeling guilty about your self-indulgent spending? You probably never thought twice about simple purchases like these, so why are you punishing yourself for even considering them now?
According to a recent survey by BabyCenter of more than 3,000 moms, women are encountering increasing amounts of money anxiety after giving birth. This includes an overwhelming fear of guilt about spending and apprehension over improper saving habits.
Granted, raising kids can be extremely expensive. As such, it makes sense for new moms to have their minds on their money and their money on their minds. However, many moms are reporting that their money anxiety is interfering with their emotional health.
If your bundle of joy is making it virtually impossible to banish money stress, rest assured you’re not alone. Here are a handful of issues that were uncovered by the BabyCenter study, as well as some tips to help alleviate your penny pinching obsession.
1. Feeling guilty about personal purchases
According to the BabyCenter study, more than 57 percent of new moms feel guilty when they spend money on themselves. The source of this anxiety is threefold: first, as a new mom, you’re still adjusting to the fact that you’re no longer your number one concern. Second, you probably have less money now that you’re a mom; and third, you’re still struggling to adjust your finances to handle a growing family. These factors combine to create an overwhelming sense of fear when it comes to spending money, even on the smallest of personal purchases.
Having a baby is certainly a financial shock for any family; however, your new addition doesn’t have to blow your budget completely off course. Sit down with your spouse or a trusted family member and seriously sort out your financial responsibilities. While you’re at it, build in some spending for yourself. Try and set some money aside to spend on “extras” including entertainment, shopping, and that morning latte. It’s always easier to spend on yourself when it’s a planned purchase, so don’t be hard on yourself. If there’s room in the budget, give yourself a salary. You’ll more than deserve it!
2. Obsessing about spending on baby
While moms are hesitant about spending on themselves, they apparently have no problem splurging on the newest edition to their family. Stats from the BabyCenter study found that 90 percent of moms are more likely to purchase something for their child than for themselves. What’s more, mommies tend to spend 61 percent more on their child’s clothing than on their own.
Spending money on your new child isn’t just fun, it also gives moms the high of shopping without the guilt of spending on personal items. What’s worse, it’s easier to rationalize a purchase for your child if it’s a toy or gadget that might build her brain or make her laugh.
Moms often find themselves living in a child-centric, materialistic society that’s constantly pushing parents to buy, buy, buy. Failure to live up to this standard often leaves moms feeling as though they’ve failed as a nurturer. On the flipside, if you’re constantly overindulging your children, they’ll never learn the true value of money.
When it comes to curbing spending on your kids, it pays to learn the power of saying ‘no.’ This will not only teach your children how to tolerate not getting everything they want, but it will also help you to avoid irresponsible spending decisions.
3. Money makes being a parent easier
Many moms feel that having money—and more of it—is a necessity for raising kids. In fact, 68 percent of moms that responded to the BabyCenter survey felt that having money made parenting easier. Close to 62 percent also felt that they needed more money in order to feel secure about their child’s future.
From daycare to healthcare and higher education, raising a baby through to adulthood can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. As such, it’s crucial to have a long-term financial plan. This might include making some hard decisions concerning your lifestyle. Ask yourself, what’s more important: living in a big house, paying off your student debt or growing your family? Sometimes opting to live a simpler life is all it takes to better care for your children.
Mom needs a splurge, too
Moms don’t have to be misers. Take the time to manage your family finances in a responsible but relaxed manner. Splurging every now and again, both on yourself and your new baby, is perfectly acceptable. After all, what’s good for mommy is often what’s good for baby, too!
So you’re having a baby. Congratulations! To collect this once-in-a-lifetime gift, please insert $10,000.
What? Can someone say reality check? When many of us think about bringing a tiny baby into the world, we think about that sweet little face, the teeny-tiny clothes, and the warmth and love this precious little being will bring into our lives.
What we don’t always think about is the price tag…but perhaps we should. According to TD Canada Trust, a baby’s first year of life costs its proud parents around $10,000. When you consider that most women will also have to take some time off work, the whole financial picture can seem pretty overwhelming. So how can you make parenthood work, without going into debt to do it? Here are some tips:
1. Have the talk
If you and your partner plan to expand your family, whether it’s this year or a few years down the road, the time to talk about it is now. How will you prepare? Who will earn the money? Who will take parental leave? The sooner you lay out how you both feel about these things, the easier it’ll be to come up with a financial plan that works.
‘People often go through so much planning around having a child, but then they don’t have a plan with respect to how they’re going to manage the financial impact,’ said John Tracy, a senior vice president at TD Canada Trust.
‘There’s always an opportunity for misunderstanding or different expectations if couples don’t communicate. If you talk about it, it’ll be easier to work something out,’ Tracy said.
Once the baby’s born, you might not be able to stop worrying about whether it’s eating enough, how well it’s sleeping and whether you’ll ever get to sleep again! But when it comes to money, a little planning can help prevent at least one more thing from keeping you up at night.
2. Plan ahead…if possible
There are two kinds of parents: Those who plan for a baby and those who get one a little sooner than they expected. If you’re in the former group, use it to your advantage by setting financial goals to tackle before you become a parent, such as buying a home, setting up retirement savings and paying down debt.
If you’re a surprise parent, it doesn’t mean you have to fall off the financial wagon; you still have nine months to get started. Set up the best spur-of-moment plan you can to help reduce the financial impact, and then make a commitment to work toward an increasingly secure financial future.
3. Make saving a habit
If you’re thinking about having a baby, you’re probably at a stage in your life when there are a lot of demands on your money. But even if your budget is tight and you don’t have a lot to devote to savings, Tracy says you must make an effort to save anyway.
‘We’re big proponents of building a habit of saving, even if it’s only a small, nominal amount,’ Tracy said. ‘This helps to maintain some momentum in terms of savings goals.’
This means that when you’re working toward parenthood, it’s important to try to save as much as possible to offset the cost of additional expenses and parental leave, even if you can’t get the entire amount together. Tracy said it’s also important to continue to save during parental leave.
‘If you continue saving over the course of the year that you’re off work, it’ll be easier to pick back up where you left off when you do go back to work,’ Tracy said.
4. Make sure you know what you’re in for
Okay, so now let’s talk maternity leave. The reality is that many people are (unpleasantly) surprised by the fact that it doesn’t replace your employment income—not even close. And the bigger your income, the greater the discrepancy. That’s because while the government offers paid leave for one or both parents through Canada’s employment insurance plan, the benefits are equal to just 55 percent of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $485 per week. Oh, and that amount, like all employment insurance benefits, is taxable. For many people, that can be a real blow to the pocketbook, so be sure to look into what you’re eligible for ahead of time, and make a plan for filling in the shortfall. (One piece of good news: you won’t have time to even think about shopping for a while…)
5. Don’t leave money on the table
If there’s one thing you don’t want to do when you’re dealing with the financial impact of a new baby, it’s leave money on the table. In fact, beyond maternity leave, there are quite a few places to look for additional income and benefits. Tracy recommends sitting down with your employer (or human resources specialist) to find out what parental benefits might be available. According to Statistics Canada, one in five Canadian mothers is eligible for ‘top-up’ payments from her employer, which essentially aim to provide a bit of a boost to what a new mother is collecting from EI. Some of these additional benefits apply to fathers as well, so it’s important that both partners do some investigating.
Tracy also recommends looking into government benefits and tax incentives for new families, such as the $100-per-child Universal Child Care Benefit. You can investigate other Canadian programs for children and families at Service Canada.
Start a firm financial legacy
If you can teach yourself the ABCs of budgeting and saving, it’ll be much easier to teach them to the little one too. One way to start is to open a savings account, TFSA or RESP, when the baby is born, contribute to it on a regular basis and get your child in on the fun when he or she is a little older. According to Tracy, all banks have children’s accounts just for this purpose.
A baby may be small, but it comes with big financial responsibilities that continue to grow along with the child. Fortunately, with some careful planning, budgeting and saving, you can really reduce the dent that cute little bundle will put in your bank account—and that’s precious, indeed.