Dear readers, as you know, your humble Bitches are what’s known as “parenting experts.” We’ve spent literally decades observing and critically judging the childrearing of others. And we’ve done it all without sullying our hands by actually becoming parents ourselves! So when it comes to the topic of how to financially prepare for a baby… you know you can trust us.
Believe it or not, we childfree hags received more than one question about financially preparing for parenthood. And while we’ve answered questions about how to get ready to buy a house or go to college before… we’ve never touched this one’s diaper-rashy bottom.
But how hard can it be?
Having kids is one of the most financially significant decisions in a person’s life! Not only are kids expensive, but the decision affects people differently depending on their gender, sexuality, and access to medical care, childcare, and educational resources.
At the very least, you or your co-parent (if you have one) will need to maneuver into a job with solid health insurance benefits and parental leave. But the preparatory headache doesn’t stop there! So let’s dive into it, shall we?
This week’s question
Today’s letter comes to us from Patreon donor Rebecca. Rebecca asks:
Hello! Long- time reader, first- time Patron, and so excited to be able to support Bitches Get Riches! I think y’all have talked me down from pulling all of my money out of the bank and retirement funds and hiding it under my mattress at least half a dozen times. Thank you!
I do have a question, though.
I am lucky to finally be getting paid what I’m worth. I’m making progress on basic financial goals (like a robust emergency fund, funding my future retirement), so I’m ready to start focusing my energies on more personal goals.
Beyond that, my husband and I are thinking of expanding our family by trying to have kids. We’re thrilled but nervous!
Strangely, while parenting advice is all over the place, there’s not a lot of advice I can find about financial milestones to meet before having kids. What advice do y’all have—from a financial standpoint—for folks looking to have kids in the next year? Thank you again for all of your work and for your sensible and attainable advice, it’s been a huge help to me!Probable future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Rebecca
For more of our unparalleled parenting advice, check out the following episodes and articles:
- Season 3, Episode 1: “I Worry Paying for My Kids’ College Will Spoil Them. Don’t Student Loans Build Character?”
- Splurging on Kids: When It Works, and When It Doesn’t
- Advice I Wish My Parents Gave Me When I Was 16
- You Don’t Have To Have Kids
- The Most Impactful Financial Decision I’ve Ever Made… and Why I Don’t Recommend It
Remember: you can trust us because we’re experts at (judging) parenting!
The award-winning and supremely pretentious Bitches Get Riches podcast would not be possible without the generosity of our Patreon donors. These human-shaped embodiments of goodwill are kind enough to kick us a few dollars each month to help us pay for expenses. And we couldn’t be more grateful to them! If our podcast has helped you, and you want to give back, join the ranks of our patrons below!
Episode transcript (click to reveal)
This episode, like all episodes, is brought to you by our Patreon donors. So this time, thanks go to Shawna, Jennifer, Pra, SunflowerDrizzle, Jordan, Jaco, Gry, Rachel, Tracy, MustangLegends, Jessica, Anna Y, and Anna E. And an extra-special thanks to Lucy, Oh-sheen, Jennifer, and Annie. These four patrons are the stars of the Great Bitchy Baking Show. Lucy is a big bowl of cake frosting that tastes like buttercream, but sculpts like fondant. Oh-sheen is a yeasted bread with no proofing time. Jennifer is a Baked Alaska that never melts. And Annie gets a handshake from Paul Hollywood every single time.
Hi, my name is Piggy and during the pandemic I read romance novels.
But I—let me explain a little background. So I am a dyed-in-the-wool literary snob. I sort of approached romance novels with this like scoff, this full-body scoff. And I have all these great, like serious reads I want to get through, and now I have the time to do it but I don’t have the motivation because the world is on fire and reading a 900 page novel about the Black Death just like bums me out right now. It’s just really comforting to know what’s coming.
Like in the pages of the book that you’re reading.
Yeah, a hundred percent.
It’s like eating comfort food in that it’s feel good and you know exactly what to expect. They are fluffy, they are light, they have a guaranteed happy fucking ending, there is smooching, and basic straightforward plot. You can recognize immediately who the love interest is by the way they pop on the page. And it’s just, it’s like so relaxing.
I was in the same boat. I kept trying and trying and trying to get through one book in particular, An Indigenous People’s History of the Americas.
I love that book! But it’s not for plague times.
I know. I know I’m going to love this book when I can get more than 50 pages in, but I started it 3 times and every time I was like, or what if I watch 30 hours of bad YouTube videos? Because I felt this presence of the present moment was just always there and like griming into me—
—and I was like I need to be transported. Transport me, please.
Theme Song 2:29
If you need some dough
You don’t know where to go
In this patriarchal capitalist hellscape
Well here’s the ‘sitch
We’re gonna help you, sis
Because bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
And so can you
And by the way, I’m Piggy.
Wow, well this is a crazy coincidence because I’m Kitty.
What! Get out of town. We are the bitches in Bitches Get Riches.
We are two highly motivated representatives from the Everyone Should Have A Dog government lobby.
And we’re here to promise a puppy in every household by 2024.
Our time on this planet is limited.
So let’s get started.
Today’s letter comes to us from patreon donor Rebecca. Rebecca asks, Hello! Long-time reader, first- time patron, and so excited to be able to support Bitches Get Riches! I think y’all have talked me down from pulling all of my money out of the bank and retirement funds and hiding it under my mattress at least half a dozen times so thank you! Thank you, Rebecca.
Yeah, thank you.
Thank you so much for those kind words, for being our Patron, for supporting us. We appreciate you. And for asking this great question, which goes, I am lucky to finally be getting paid what I’m worth. (Ka-ching, we love it.) I’m making progress on basic financial goals like a robust emergency fund, funding my future retirement accounts, etc, so I’m ready to start focusing my energies on some more personal goals. My husband and I are thinking about expanding our family and trying to have kids. We are thrilled but nervous! Strangely, while parenting advice is all over the place, there’s not a lot of advice I can find about financial milestones to meet before having kids. What advice do y’all have from a financial standpoint for folks looking to get ready to get ready to have kids? Thank you again for all of your work and your sensible and attainable advice, it’s been a huge help to me! Thank you, Rebecca.
Yay Rebecca! And I just want to preface this answer by reminding people that as 2 child-free, adult, married cisgender women, we are in fact parenting experts. So I’m really glad that people are starting to recognize our work in that field. Thank you for bringing this question to us.
Actually, we got this exact question from more than 1 person over the course of like 1 month.
And I was like, okay, seriously like clearly this is a hot topic for our readers. And although this is something that maybe you and I don’t have a ton of personal experience in, we have a deep social network of people who have kids. We have little nieces and nephews. So we have some familiarity here and we may not be able to speak to the getting emotionally or practically ready to have a baby, but lord we are equipped to talk about that neglected area Rebecca identified, which is how do you become financially prepared? And it’s true. I really don’t see people talking a lot about specific milestones. Like if you want to go into pregnancy, which sounds like a stressful and busy time in one’s life—
So I hear.
—if you want to go into that period with the confidence of knowing any problems I’m going to encounter are not going to be financial ones, we can help make that happen.
Totally. There’s this terrible platitude that I’ve heard so many times that I fucking hate. It goes “if you wait till you’re ready to have babies, you’ll never have babies.” And I hate it for a number of reasons.
I can tell you hate it too. One of the reasons I hate it is because it’s that condescending form of guilting somebody into reproducing. It’s like, well nobody is ever really ready so you might as well just have them now. And like what are you waiting for, stop waiting, just put a baby in you and squirt it out. Just do it, it’s fine! And I find that that’s really very invalidating to a lot of people’s goals, lifestyles, viewpoints, etc. Not only in the way that like some people might take a lot of comfort from really planning that process out for themselves, but also it’s a way of hand-waving away the totally valid reasons why some people might not ever want to have children, which—
—I know you and I both personally relate to. But I also dislike that platitude because it kind of suggests that you should just let this happen to you rather than making it be a process that you have some agency in. So I just—to anyone who’s ever said, “if you wait till you’re ready you’ll never have kids,” I want you to step on a Lego tomorrow morning before you’ve had your coffee.
Yeah, I agree. And I think science agrees. There is a ton of research about how a more advanced maternal age is tied to better outcomes almost completely across the board for children. So like, don’t give in to that pressure because clearly like having more stability in your life, having greater emotional intelligence, being more settled, having a bigger support group, being able to see and learn from your peers. I think all of that builds to life experience and life experience makes for better parents.
I’m glad that Rebecca is asking this question and embracing learning because that is actually exactly the kind of quality that’s going to make Rebecca a fine mother.
Indeed. And I do want to say something about the term mother. Women aren’t the only people who can give birth, women aren’t the only people who can be parents. There are family units that look like all kinds of things. So, you know, non-binary people can be parents, men can be mothers. We’re trying and we want to use inclusive language. So if we’re non-inclusive with our language in this episode, it’s just us trying to shuffle off the thick shroud of patriarchal tradition and heteronormativity and we’re doing our best.
Yes, agreed. So now let’s think about some of the practical—
Yeah. The first one that comes to mind for me is making sure that you have health insurance, and that you have done the research that is unfortunately necessary in in the American medical system. Do you have an OBGYN that you feel passionate about? Make sure that you have an insurance that works with that person. If you’re interested in something like a home birth or using a doula or giving birth at a particular hospital, it’s definitely worth it to do that research early on because there are so many shenanigans that go on in the medical system where—to give you an example, my little brother needed emergency surgery. We had just enough time beforehand that I could jump on Google and verify that the emergency room that was closest to us was part of his in-network coverage. We threw him in the car and drove him there and he underwent emergency surgery. And then he got a massive bill because the ER itself was in-network, but the surgeon was out-of-network, which is just like beyond infuriating. It’s not fair. This isn’t research and work that anyone should have to do.
Especially not in an emergency surgery situation.
Good god no. It’s ridiculous. And it’s disrespectful and it runs counter to…life, honestly. People ruin their lives over medical debt, people die for fear of going to the doctor.
Medical debt is the number 1 reason for bankruptcy in the United States. So, hashtag medical reform.
It’s really fucked up, but do that research. If you haven’t yet thought through those more nitty-gritty details of like, where, when, how, with whom you want to give birth? Thinking about it through a financial lens will actually be a helpful way to kind of guide you in making the decisions that are right for you.
I think another one, especially for the parent who’s going to be giving birth, is to come up with a flexible career plan, maybe with a plan A, B, and C. It’s really important to come up with a plan A about whether you will leave your job and how, whether you will go on some kind of parental leave and how, and whether you will come back and how, and then be flexible about it. Because I do know some women who tried to come back to their full-time jobs after giving birth and it didn’t work out for them. That’s not to say that it was universally because their employers sucked at providing accommodations for nursing mothers or chestfeeding parents. It’s not to say that their jobs were super unwelcoming. Some of them just like, they missed their babies and they decided that if they could make it work financially, they preferred to be home with their children. Which like, call me a bad feminist (this is a joke, sarcasm alert), but there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to be a stay-at-home mom. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to be a not stay-at-home parent and to instead have childcare workers look after your children while you go to work, and there’s especially nothing wrong with having that choice taken away from you because you cannot afford to actively choose between those options.
Well, there is something wrong, but not with you. This is a shame-free zone. The point being, come up with a plan A, B, and C for how you will handle your employment and income once you’re a parent.
Agreed. You know, if you find a job that has really good health care and really good paid parental leave, even if that job is a lateral move, it’s not really like a promotion, or even you’re sort of taking a bit of a step back into that role, totally worth it to strategically take the job just to secure those benefits and utilize them to their fullest. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making the best strategic decision for yourself. But do check before you take any new jobs, like read through your company’s handbook about what their accommodations are. Make sure if you’re in a company or a state where those benefits only kick in after a certain number of months, you know, make sure that you’ve done that research so that you’re not surprised by expecting to get a benefit, and then in fact not getting it.
I think Piggy’s totally right, put together a plan A, plan B, depending on how you’re feeling. And, like really give yourself permission to choose the plan B if it turns out that that’s what feels good to you in the moment. I’m a big advocate for thinking actively about how to react to postpartum depression.
Mmm. That’s a really good point.
My little brother is about a decade my junior and my mother became very very depressed after she had him. And it was very confusing and upsetting to me as a still fairly young child to be helping out as much as I possibly could with a newborn little brother, and also being like, I don’t know why my mom is crying in the bathtub with the lights out in the middle of the day. So because I lived through that, I’m always a little bit too invasive, I think, when I’m asking my friends who are putting together plans to have babies or who recently had babies, I’m like, how are you, though? How are you doing? Rate your likelihood to go cry in a bathtub with the lights out for me, personally, please, right now. It’s such a difficult thing to talk about. Depression teaches us to hide our symptoms from everyone around us. I think that one of the exacerbating features of postpartum depression is when you feel financial pressure that you don’t have that choice. So like please consider that, you know, you may have a plan but I’m just reiterating how important it is to give yourself as many choices, as many options because that is going to do wonders for your mental health, and your ability to react to things that biologically, physiologically may be beyond your immediate ability to predict or control.
I think it would be worth it to double-check what the situation is with your life insurance.
Mmm, that’s a really good point.
A lot of companies will offer you life insurance as part of your basic health benefits package. Go ahead and look into that now, look into long-term disability insurance. Just in case, if you’re a parent I think it’s definitely worth it to look at what the cost of that is and what the benefit would be, and weigh whether it would be worth it for your sort of long-term stability. And you know what, go ahead and have that talk. Like, what is our plan if the person giving birth passes away? What is our plan if one of us gets a chronic illness 6 months into our child’s life? Just talk about those sort of worst case scenarios, because I find that talking about it and making a plan for what you would do is an incredibly liberating step to take and makes you feel like there’s less that could happen to you that you aren’t emotionally and logistically prepared for.
Totally. Well said.
So yeah, take a shitty job and milk them benefits for all they’re worth!
As part of making your sort of plan A, plan B, all the way through to plan Gamma. Like, let’s go all the way down the alphabet, Latin and Greek. In addition to that, I think it makes a lot of sense to make sure your career is as strong as it can be and to make sure your network is as good as it can be if you are going to take a lot of time off to have a child and potentially time off to raise that child. It is easier than ever to get back into the workforce. But that is not to say that it is easy. It’s still very difficult. So make sure that you ask the people who are close to you to write you LinkedIn references. Make sure you’re connected to the people who you work with every day, add them on LinkedIn, add them on Facebook, just to to keep abreast of what’s going on in their life, to make sure that they remain part of your circle. Because I think those connections are really going to be crucial in getting you back in the workforce later on.
Write your resume now, while all of your job skills are really fresh in your mind, because I think if you take a year off to have a child or two years off and then you want to re-enter the workforce—if it were me I would be like, what the hell did I do at that company again? I don’t remember. You’ll just have so much going on like, give your future self the gift of getting your resume as polished as it can be now, so that there’s a bare minimum of dust that you have to blow off of it.
And yeah, I think making sure that the partner who is not bearing the child, who presumably will continue to work, make sure that that partner is really happy in their career. Because what you don’t want is to have a one-year-old and one partner who is unable or unwilling to return to work, and then also you’re going through all the psychic pressure of being a provider and feeling very trapped in a situation that doesn’t feel sustainable. So making sure that like, one of you has a career that’s like super stable and feels right on track.
Another milestone I want to mention is whatever you have for your emergency fund, no matter how big it is, fucking double it when you have kids.
That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but my nephew is 5 years old and has had 2 broken bones in his very short life.
Yeah, and he needs speech therapy cause he’s got a little speech impediment. All these random little things that you don’t expect could like crop up and be an expense that you have to handle when you have children who are dependent on you for literally their very lives. We have a whole article about how big your emergency fund is, I believe it’s called You Must Be This Big To Be An Emergency Fund, and that’s a good baseline for determining how large your emergency fund should be. But again, it should be larger if you have whole entire human beings dependent on you.
Yeah. So much can happen like, you can plan for a home birth and end up in an ER getting an emergency C-section.
Like that is just one of many possible outcomes. I’ve heard the general figure of about $10,000 is what most of my contacts who have had a child have ended up paying just in the actual process of giving birth. So that alone is shocking and I can hear our European listeners are just like, was ist das?!
Yeah, maybe if you want to have a baby, move to the Netherlands! And I also want to emphasize that like, a child-based emergency fund isn’t just for the birth or the first year. I mean children are weird little chaos monsters and you never know what they’re going to get up to next, up to and including just, you know, like dropping your whole entire iPad into a kiddie pool. And when you ask them why, they say, because I love you. So, you know, replacing electronics that children dump into kiddie pools, that’s something for an emergency fund. So just be aware like, when their lives are no longer immediately endangered by being separated from you for 5 minutes at a time, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, financially speaking.
Yeah. Exactly. I think also just in general, setting a budget, obviously. I think some couples may feel for example, if I am taking 6 months off after the birth of our child, that means that we also won’t need our regular cleaning service that we have out twice a month or we won’t be ordering food as much cause I’ll be home and I’ll be able to cook, and I think just gauging how realistic that is by trying to live within that budget. And you may find that like certain things that you’ve accounted for are not as realistic as they could have been.
Yeah, no one orders take out more than new parents who are just too exhausted to even boil pasta.
That’s a fact of life.
Another thing that is just going to save you money. If you’re thinking about having a child like a year plus out, dog, start trolling free-cycling groups, mommy groups in your area, on whatever social media platforms you use now.
Get all the used shit.
Literally, they may only be able to wear an outfit once or twice before they’ve immediately grown out of it. And start to keep your eye out for more expensive things that you can snag a deal on. Things like car seats, strollers, cribs, the sort of bigger ticket items that their child may only use for a year or 2 and they will happily give it away for free or very very little cost. There is so much for a new baby that you really don’t have to pay a penny for because they grow like weeds and people just give that stuff away very freely, if you have the luxury of time to acquire it.
Yeah. I think another milestone would definitely be getting your extended family together. I say extended family very loosely. I’m definitely a proponent of chosen family in addition to the family you were born with. Tap into the people who are really going to be your ride or die network as a parent, and make sure that you can rely on them for cheap babysitting or picking up supplies if you need them, or just, you know, to be an extra pair of hands. I think that will spare you from excessive childcare costs and maybe other services like you know, Instacart, if you just can’t go to the grocery store, but more importantly it’ll save you from the extra stress of not having someone you can trust on hand with your children. I hear children are very precious and parents very protective of them. They don’t let just anybody off the street, you know, take care of their kids.
I agree. That’s a great great call out because I think a lot of people might have a plan in their mind where they’re like, your mom can watch the kid for 2 days a week and then we can afford daycare 3 days a week. Like it will all work out. But like, have you actually talked to your mother-in-law?
Yeah, do not take your mother-in-law for granted!
If you’re thinking about people to help, like really talk to them first, just like, be honest because I think some people will surprise you by being willing to give even more than you thought you could ask of them and other people may surprise you in the opposite direction. And it’s just good to know all of that concretely, for sure. Childcare becomes a cost consideration pretty quickly after childbirth. So you got to, you got to figure it out.
Oh my gosh, we’re so good at this.
You know what, for non-parents, I’m fucking impressed!
I mean. It’s just cause we’re obsessed with thinking about things like life insurance. Anyway, are you good with that?
Yeah. I am good with that.
Listeners, if you want us to answer your question, go to BitchesGetRiches.com and click “Ask the Bitches.” This podcast is listener-supported. We are committed to never ever putting our best content behind a paywall. So if you like what we do and you want us to keep doing it, you can support the podcast by joining our Patreon at patreon.com/bitchesgetriches. And if you need even more Bitches in your life, you can read our articles or follow us on social media at BitchesGetRiches.com.
Hey, is there anything else that our listeners should know?
Yes. The progression from Tiger King to Ted Lasso over the last 18 months or so says a hell of a lot about how we’ve all grown and changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Good to know.
Kitty & Piggy 24:43
I don’t know who the fuck Ted Lasso is.
[distraught vocalization] WHAT?!