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Insights & advice

How to prepare financially for starting a family

October 2021 – 15 min read

How do you know you’re ready to start a family? There’s an emotional, deeply personal side to that question that only you can answer – but financially, it’s a bit more straightforward.

Getting ready to grow your family is an exciting time, but it’s one that (like all big life decisions) benefits from some forward-planning, expert advice and lots of research.
Here are some of the things you need to think about as you get financially ready to welcome your bundle of joy.

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Understand the cost of having a family

The experience of parenthood is priceless but it’s also a significant dollars-and-cents cost. In fact, according to MoneysenseOuvre un nouveau site dans une nouvelle fenêtre, the average Canadian family spends between $10,000 and $15,000 a year raising a child until they’re 18. (That’s over $180,000 in total.)

In the first year of your baby’s life, you’ll have a specific set of expenses, which can include:

  • Clothes, which they’ll grow out of every few months

  • Stroller, car seat, crib and other baby equipment

  • Formula (if that’s what you choose) and food as the baby is weaned 

  • Childcare, which could include babysitters or daycare if both parents work
  • A larger home or car to accommodate your growing family
  • Don’t forget about maternity and paternity benefits. Not only will you receive a percentage of your regular salary from the government – a maximum of 55% percent depending on your income – there may also be other benefits available from your employer. Some companies offer top ups to the government benefits you can receive, which may help you decide whether to take the standard 52 weeks or extended 69 weeks of maternity or paternity leave.

Prepare your finances for having a family

The more you can do ahead of having children, the better you’ll be set up once they arrive. (The less on your plate when you’re sleep-deprived, the happier everyone will be!) Here are a few financial moves you can make now that in the future you will be grateful for.

Pay down any debt

If you’ve got any credit card debt, now is the time to try and clear it – and resist the temptation to put any baby expenses on it. And yes, that includes middle-of-the-night purchases when you’re delirious doing a night feed.

Build up your savings

Now’s the time to pick up a side hustle or look for a higher-paying job since you probably won’t’ have the time to make these money-generating moves when the new arrival comes. Also consider adjusting to your post-baby budget early (like pretending to live on maternity leave pay) before the baby comes. This will help you build up a financial cushion, and make your new lifestyle less of a shock when it starts.

Write a will

If you haven’t got one already, set time aside to draw up this crucial legal paperwork before things get busy with a baby.

Save for the future

Preparing financially for having a baby doesn’t end when your family leave does. Make sure your family is set up for a solid financial future by saving today. A few options to consider:

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

Help your child pay for post-secondary education by making contributions to this dedicated education savings account. The money grows tax-free and the government also chips in with the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG.)

Life insurance

Life insurance can help ease the financial burden if the unexpected happens. If you do have life insurance, consider upping your coverage amount.

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