This article first appeared in MoneySmart's Expecting a Baby? Here’s 5 Ways You Should be Planning Your Finances
So, you're pregnant or, if that's biologically impossible for you, your spouse is. Congratulations! You've got quite a do-list ahead of you. And no, planning the baby shower should not be at the top of it. Having a kid is going to have a huge financial impact, so make sure you do the following.
1. Redo your budget to include the baby
As a childless couple, your budget might have prominently featured categories like "dining out", "entertainment" and "overseas holidays".
Now that there's a new addition to your family, you'll need to rework that budget. Some categories will have to shrink to make way for additions like "baby food", milk powder" and "childcare". You'll also need to anticipate future spending categories like "education" and "allowance".
2. Sign up for the Baby Bonus Scheme and Open Your Child Development Account
So you've done your national duty. Now let the government reward you with the Baby Bonus and by matching your savings in your Child Development Account.
Next, you'll have to sign up for your CDA with one of the available banks-OCBC, DBS or UOB. Don't be fooled into thinking they're all the same, either-the perks like discounts at various child-related merchants differ, so you'll want to do your homework before picking a bank.
Two months before your baby is due, you can sign up online here to join the Baby Bonus scheme.
Read also: 45% of women in Singapore overestimate chances of getting pregnant in their 30s
3. Start shopping for baby stuff in advance so you can consider online or second-hand options
Months before your baby arrives, you're going to be forking out a significant amount of cash for baby-related products like stollers, cribs and milk bottles.
This is not something you want to leave to the last minute, as you can save quite a bit by buying from online merchants or purchasing things second-hand, as opposed to rushing to Mothercare one week before the baby is due. For instance, some brands of milk bottles are significantly cheaper on Target's online store than they are at local brick-and-mortar shops.
You also want to do your research on what's safe to buy second hand and what isn't. As a general rule of thumb, cribs, high chairs and strollers are best bought new since they can be dangerous when old and worn out. On the other hand, buying a second hand Winnie the Pooh romper isn't going to hurt anybody, especially when your kid is too young to complain about using hand-me-downs. You can download apps like Bakipa that have a wide array of second-hand options at your fingertips before you spend thousands of dollars on new equipment.
Read also: Congratulations, you're pregnant. So what's next?
4. Shop around for medical packages
When you (or your partner) first become pregnant, you'll realise quite quickly how expensive healthcare in Singapore can be.
The first thing you'll want to do after confirming the pregnancy will be to sign up for a prenatal package, which will have you going for scheduled checkups. Public hospitals can cost much less than half of what you would pay at a private hospital, but some mothers might prefer to see a doctor who's been serving their family for years.
You also want to make arrangements for the actual delivery, and decide what kind of room you want to stay in and how you plan to give birth.
5. Think about your work arrangements after the birth
For some Singaporeans, having a child will alter their career paths, at least for a little while. While over half of Singaporean couples are dual income these days, a significant number of women still choose to be stay-at-home parents or work part-time for a few years.
If you plan to ask for a flexible work arrangement or get part-time hours, it's probably a good idea to approach your employer before you go on maternity leave. Wait till you're back from maternity leave and your sudden request could give your employer an excuse to fire you.
You also want to take into consideration your infantcare or childcare arrangements and when you need to pick the child up at the end of the day, since these will have an impact on your work arrangements.
If one of you has decided to drop out of the workforce altogether, you'd better do your sums first and make sure you're still able to meet your savings and retirement goals with one spouse's salary while shouldering the additional financial cost of raising a child.
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