Dear Qualified Financial Advisor,
I recently got married, and my partner and I are certain that we want to start a family soon. We’re both still hoping to achieve a few career milestones before we can take on the responsibility of parenting. We’re doing well financially, but we’re not sure what impact having a child would have on this — or how much in advance we need to start preparing for it and how far ahead we need to plan. Do we need to have enough for the first few years, or do we already need to start thinking about their schooling, college, and so on? What all do we need to think about before we have a child?
An Aspiring Parent
Dear Aspiring Parent,
Congratulations on your marriage and here’s wishing you all the very best for your future! I quite understand the emotions you are going through, but trust me — with time, things fall into place.
When you have a child, you become responsible to ensure a good future for them. You can certainly start planning for the first few years of parenthood in earnest, and here are some recommendations that could help.
Since you and your partner are both working and have careers of your own, you should consider having childcare. You can ask around your locality and amongst your friends to know what good childcare will cost every month. Then, ensure that you have a liquid fund or a fixed deposit to cover that cost for at least two years.
You will also need to account for your child’s vaccination costs and regular doctor visits for the first two years. As first-time parents, we’re always paranoid when it comes to our child falling sick. You may not necessarily have to keep money aside for this, but it will be an added cost.
After this, in the formative years, you may want to introduce your child to a playgroup, which doesn’t come cheap. You may want to save or invest a specific amount for this, also taking inflation into consideration.
These recommendations are for your child’s first few years. You can begin to think of their schooling and college expenses once the child is born, though schooling expenses are generally taken care of by the regular incomes of the parents. As for college expenses, you need to start investing right from when your child reaches 2–3 years of age.
Additionally, you may want to consider an emergency fund to cover at least 9–12 months of your household expenses — this is a crucial part of family financial planning. Also, think about having term insurance coverage of at least 20 times your annual income — so in case of any eventuality, your child’s education expenses will be covered. Most importantly, you and your partner should have adequate personal medical insurance in which you must also include your child, as soon as they are born.
Last but not least, go with the flow and trust your own instincts on when to have a child.
Once again — wishing you all the very best!
1 Finance Advisory Committee for Qualified Financial Advisors — Mumbai Chapter