When I was six months pregnant, I went out to breakfast with my grandfather. He usually doles out sage advice, and I was ready for some parenting wisdom. But on this occasion, he just handed me a newspaper clipping.
It was a list of financial and legal matters to take care of before giving birth. “Do this and don’t worry about anything else. You’ll figure out the rest when the baby is here,” he advised.
I kept that newspaper clipping and made my way through the important points they suggested, and by the time I gave birth, I had such peace of mind to have something organized (because my new life with a newborn was anything but organized).
That initial list was a helpful starting point, and I expanded it to include nine things you should do before and after your baby arrives.
1. Check workplace benefits
As you start planning to welcome your new little one, a good first step is to understand what workplace benefits are available to you. Unfortunately, not every company offers the amount of paid leave that you might want (or need). In many cases, your parental leave may be made up of a combination of paid leave, short-term disability, vacation days, and unpaid leave.
Knowing what is available to you and making a financial plan for how much time you can take off will help you be able to embrace your time with your baby without worrying about money.
2. Call your insurance company
Health insurance is complex, and having a baby can bring up new situations that you previously haven’t encountered. Call your health insurance company to confirm what they cover and what you’ll be responsible to pay. Plus, it’s a good idea to start saving for some of the additional health costs. The average out of pocket costs women with health insurance incur during pregnancy, delivery, and in the first three months post-birth are over $4,500.
3. Consider life insurance
It’s uncomfortable to think about worst-case scenarios, especially during such an exciting time, but making sure your loved ones would be taken care of should the worst happen is important. Both you and your partner (if applicable) should consider whether you need life insurance and how large of a policy you should get.
4. Create or update your will
This is another thing that you never want to think about but is important to do. Use this new time in your family to create or update your will. Should anything happen to you, a will can ensure that your child is cared for how you choose and by whom you choose. There are services that offer online wills, but depending on your financial situation, it might be worth it to visit a lawyer.
5. Consolidate important financial and non-financial information
You’re probably getting your house organized, so take some extra time to get important documents organized as well. Make sure you have your financial and other information in a safe place and that someone you trust to help your family in case of emergency knows how to access it.
You’ll want to track down things like:
- Your will and/or trust and medical power of attorney
- A medical power of attorney granting a caregiver the ability to obtain medical care for your child
- Your health insurance information for parents and children
- Any allergies or current medication for all members of the family
- All insurance policies, including life insurance, disability insurance, renters or home insurance, and auto insurance
- A list of bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, and any outstanding debt
- Your prior-year tax return
- Information for all household bills, like electricity and Internet, including your account number
- Contact information for your accountant and financial planner, if applicable
- Doctor information for yourself and any other children
- If you have older children, include notes about your children’s schedule and routine including where they go to school and what activities they participate in
6. Request a social security number
If you have your baby in a hospital or birthing center, don’t forget to request their social security number on the birth registration form. You’ll want to have both parents’ social security numbers handy to fill out the form.
But if you don’t give birth in a hospital, somehow miss filling out the form, or you adopt a child, you’ll have to do a few extra things to request a number for your baby. Visit the social security website for more instructions.
7. Update your health insurance with the life event
Your baby is here, and things are exciting! While you’re in those first few days of getting to know your new little one, it’s time to make another call to your insurance company. Let them know that you’ve had a life event and get your baby included on your health insurance policy. You typically have 30 days to add them, but it’s a good idea to do it early before you have a chance to forget about it (trust me: the forgetfulness strikes quickly).
8. Freeze your child’s credit
In the age of data breaches, you should have your credit frozen to keep bad actors from accessing it. But did you know that it’s also a good idea to freeze your child’s credit? Freezing their credit is going to be your best defense against someone using that brand new social security number you just got for them.
Luckily, freezing your child’s credit isn’t difficult. Here’s an explanation on how to freeze their credit.
9. Start saving for college
If you plan to help your child pay for college, now is a good time to start, if you’re financially able to do so. If a 529 plan is the right savings route for you, research and open one in the state that you choose. Even if you can’t start contributing to it regularly right now, you might still have grandparents or other relatives donate — maybe even in lieu of gifts. Start now and that money will have even longer to compound.
These nine things may not be as exciting as some of the other baby prep you’re doing (what’s more fun than adorable baby clothes?), but they are just as important for your family.