Budgeting for Baby: Medical Expenses & Accepting Help

Medical Expenses 
I am no expert on the medical/financial side of having a baby, so that component to this post will be brief.  I have been extremely fortunate to have maternity insurance for both of my pregnancies, because my husband had benefits through his job.  I know not everyone has that privilege.  But I also know that there are many responsible ways to finance a baby.  Nearly all of my husband’s side of the family works in agriculture, which provides a lot of different perks, but not always health insurance.  Some are also self-employed in other industries.  They have all had several babies in a responsible financial matter, and paid for them all very differently.  Talk to people, talk to your healthcare provider, talk to coworkers, research, and find a good fit on what works for you.  They have all done things differently and found ways that work for them.  Most of them have at least 4 kids and live in a rural area, so it is definitely attainable!     

However, even though I have had decent maternity coverage, it can still be expensive.  We pay monthly for insurance, plus a big bill to the medical staff, and a good chunk to the hospital.  One thing to look into is an HSA account.  I don’t know tons about them, my husband deals with ours.  But it has been helpful.  Many employers even contribute or match to them, and they can be used on anything medical (like having babies, going to the dentist, or even a sport’s physical, etc.). 

And my last tip is, pay off what you can as quickly as you can.  For many people, the medical side of child bearing might put a financial strain on a budget, and put the family into some debt.  That is okay, if you are being reasonable and responsible.  But--make a plan on how to slowly or quickly (whatever is doable for you) chip away at the remaining expenses after the baby is born.  It is stressful to start getting a lot of extra bills in the mail.  What worked great for us when I had Landon (and what we plan on doing for this baby), is paying off the remainder of our costs when we get our tax return or when my husband gets a quarterly bonus.  It is one of the few times a year we get a larger chunk of money that we don’t budget into our daily expenses.  So while getting new furniture or going on a fun trip sounds so enticing, we do the responsible thing and pay off our debts.  And it is so nice for the extra bills to disappear and to know that we are free and clear of those expenses.  We might not have a glamorous vacation to reminisce on, but that’s okay!  Sacrifices…remember?  If you don't have a big chunk of change like that, then slowly paying it off will work just as well too!  Again, talk to people that are in similar situations and see what has worked best for them.  Communicate with the hospital (or birthing center or midwife) about payment options.  It is best to look into this before the baby arrives, because there might be payment options that are more beneficial to you, if you start the process earlier rather than later.  

Sorry I can't give more specifics on this big part of paying for a baby, but everyone is so different in their circumstances, that it really is hard to pinpoint what will work best for each individual family.  Hopefully I at least gave you some ideas/direction on options you might not have thought of.  

Accept the Help that Comes, But Don't Expect a Certain Kind of Help
So, while baby showers are a cultural norm, especially for a first-timer parent, please don’t expect your family, neighbors, and coworkers to provide everything your baby needs.  I hope every momma gets at least one baby shower, because they truly are helpful and it really is such a nice gesture.  But please, don’t think that every baby you have you “need” to have a shower—it’s my opinion, but it’s tacky.  It's not that I don't believe in celebrating "every baby" (I've heard that as a reason to have a shower for every one), because showers are really just asking people to bring you stuff.  If you are worried about a celebration, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate!  I know that everyone won’t agree with that opinion, but I’m allowed to have it.  I was shocked when I heard someone saying that they were asking someone to throw them another baby shower because they still needed some stuff, like diapers, pacifiers, etc.  I thought to myself, “did she not anticipate having to pay for anything on her own?”  So, disagree with me if you would like, but just know that you can do most, if not all, of it on your own!  And I’m sure you will be surprised at the generosity of others.  Family members and neighbors still often bring by gifts, even if you don’t have a shower.  Friends will bring by a big bag of hand-me-downs that have a bunch of potential.  You will feel the love.  You will have help.  Just don’t plan on having a certain kind of help.  Just accept the kind of help that comes your way.  And reciprocate the help when you know of someone else having a baby!  You will remember how much you appreciated it, so do it for someone else. 

This might sound like a harsh philosophy to have, but I am of the opinion, that child bearing and rearing is a responsibility that we must take upon ourselves.  We can't have the feeling of entitlement when it comes to providing for our families.  I whole-heartedly feel that being a mother (or father) is one of the most important and divine things we can do in this life, and that it is our purpose here.  I personally believe that God commanded us to have children and not delay this important part of our lives.  I also strongly feel though, that God wants us to be as self-reliant as possible, and that he also gave us brains to figure out how to problem-solve, prepare, and provide for ourselves and families.  Sorry for the post to take a religious tangent, but I just wanted to explain part of the thinking behind my perspectives.  Because of my beliefs, I think the time table for every family in regards to child bearing will be different, and that is okay.  It is between husband, wife, and God, and it will look different for everyone.  So take that for what it is worth to you!  My next post will be more practical and small ways to begin preparing for a baby!  Stay tuned!

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