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  • first-time parents

    We just got a good report from the OB and it sounds like this baby is really happening! Despite both being (resident) physicians, hearing that heartbeat for the first time is pretty surreal. Time to get my head out of the sand and face the music, ha. This will be our first child and certainly change our perspective on things, including personal finance. Any advice? Or a personal finance checklist of sorts for first time parents? These questions are intentionally broad - thanks!

  • #2
    Not sure about a checklist, other than the obvious 529 accounts for college and maybe a UTMA account for beyond, but I will say that my children were/are considerably more expensive than I ever imagined. It is very easy to get sucked into buying stuff for them and enrolling them in activities that you never had growing up or that are not on your radar screen now. The potential expense is unlimited when you consider private school, summer camp, cute clothes, lots of toys, books, select sports, music lessons, and on and on) Brace yourself! It is much easier to deny yourself than deny your children.

    One hack that worked for a while was that we took my son to bookstores (when there was more than just B&N), libraries and toy stores (they no longer exist, right?) to read/play. My son had no idea that you could take toys or books home from the store until he went one afternoon with Grandpa to FAO Schwartz.

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    • #3
      how much debt do you have?

      which branch of medicine are you in?

      When do you graduate?

      Are you looking to buy a house soon? etc.

      Putting a lot of money in a 529 would not be the best bet if you have a lot of student debt?

      I think you should give some more details that way you can get better advice.

       

       

       

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      • #4




        We just got a good report from the OB and it sounds like this baby is really happening! Despite both being (resident) physicians, hearing that heartbeat for the first time is pretty surreal. Time to get my head out of the sand and face the music, ha. This will be our first child and certainly change our perspective on things, including personal finance. Any advice? Or a personal finance checklist of sorts for first time parents? These questions are intentionally broad – thanks!
        Click to expand...


        - HR should have a pretty extensive checklist for Mom both before starting maternity leave and upon returning from maternity leave

        - prepare health insurance plan for new addition

        - prepare 529 (I was an attending when we had our first kid, might be a bit tight on a resident's salary)

        - have a candid discussion about childcare. My wife and I are still struggling with this. I imagine it would be even tougher with two resident physicians. In our case, my mother-in-law has been great about helping us out. But she lives with us, has been living with us for 6 months, will probably be living with us for another 6 months, and now there are rumblings she wants to be here beyond that time period. My wife was planning on having her around for 1 year and then having her leave. Now she's unsure what to do. I was planning on having her around for 6 weeks and while I don't mind having her around, it's a different dynamic with another person in the household. Here's hoping you have a better gameplan than we did/do (one parent taking a break from career vs parents helping out vs nanny vs day care vs other)

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        • #5
          Congratulations!! I hope everything with the pregnancy goes smoothly and you have a healthy bundle of joy in your arms in a few months :-) I'm holding my own right now and there's really nothing better. That said, having a baby in residency is no walk in the park. The sleep deprivation is pretty intense. I think the most important thing to get squared away is childcare. It is impossible to go to work if you don't feel comfortable with who is watching your kiddo. Outside of that, just get through the first year with everyone alive and then you can start to look around and see what else you want to do. You are going to have enough on your plate as it is, trust me. We had our first in med school so I understand some of the challenges of having a kid at this stage of the game.

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          • #6
            We used the Baby Bargains book as our starting point for evaluating what to buy.  It was pretty accurate.  I'm not sure how long they have had the website.  We're a 2 physician family but I was an attending when we started.  My dad helped out for about 2 months while my wife finished residency and when we moved for her fellowship we set up a nanny.

            Save money on things the baby will outgrow quickly.  We shopped a lot at second hand shops for extra outfits...just going to get pooped/spit up on anyway.

            Car seats will cost more than you want.

            Shout and oxyclean work well.

            Every kid can be different.  Just because it worked for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you.

            Expect everything will cost you more than you want but in a few short years it won't matter so much.

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            • #7
              Congratulations!

              The most important thing and the only thing you need to do right away is make sure you have adequate term life insurance. Not sure I'd do much else financially before birth other than maybe boost up the emergency fund a bit.
              Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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              • #8
                You can end up spending serious money on car seats and strollers. Having extended family (if that is realistic) to help out afterward can be a lifesaver.

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                • #9
                  Congratulations! My husband and I had our first at the end of our fourth year of medical school and our second when we were finishing our PGY-2 years (anesthesia/ internal medicine and now cardiology fellowship). We had our third during my first year as an attending and are now expecting a fourth as my husband finishes up his fellowship. Obviously we love kids

                  Everyone has really good advice above, but I would agree that during residency you might not realistically be able to fund a 529. We did manage to contribute to our 403b and lived very frugally.... except for childcare. Depending on your specialties and whether you have family help, you could be looking at a >30k/yr childcare bill for nanny +/- daycare. We could not use daycare because of our early and unpredictable hours. Nannies for 3 kids in our area cost about $20/hr. We had to buy a third car for the nanny to use since carseats didn't fit in her car. Everything adds up.

                  Try not to worry about getting tons of stuff for a newborn. They won't care.... All you need is a place for them to sleep, a carseat, diapers, and some clothes. Eventually you need more stuff but you can almost always find things at a consignment store or used from friends. We barely bought any toys, swings, rockers, jumpers, etc new.

                  I struggled as an intern with not seeing my baby and having to pump all the time since I loved breastfeeding and wanted to continue doing that when I was home. BUT, now he is turning 7 and doesn't remember when I was on Q4overnight call my entire intern year (when we still worked post call until 1pm). It turns out that it's much harder for the parent to be separated from their little baby. The baby is happy as long as there is someone to cuddle and feed them. Sometimes you will have to remind yourself of that!

                  Also, someone gave me this advice that I still use, although it's more important as they get older - they said, "never apologize to your kids for going to work". It helped a lot in our discussions of why I go to work. I'm not sorry I am leaving for work because I love what I do and it's important. I take care of sick people and it is rewarding. I tell them that I love my days off and I would rather be hanging out with them but it is important to find a job or activity that you love and try to help people when you can. It's also a good reminder to me sometimes that I do like my job and what I do

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                  • #10
                    Just hold on tight.  Money's great, I love it, but I hate every second away from my son.  I'd cut my hours (to a point) to spend more time with him.

                    Tips:

                    • Try to avoid unnecessary Carter's and the baby section at Kohl's.  Even with their crazy deals (esp clearance), you might still find yourself with more outfits than your child can wear once.  Our guest closet is full of clothes up to 18 months, some of which I don't even think he wore twice.

                    • We had a MamaRoo (baby swing) on our registry.  Would have preferred the $ spent on it go to other things.  Avoid expensive toys/gadgets because your child will probably be more content playing with hangers, shoes, just about anything other than the brightly-colored plastic things.

                    • If you don't have rear ventilation in your car, get a Noggle or one of those USB fans.

                    • IMO cloth diapers aren't worth the trouble since we're busy enough being doctors to worry about their upkeep, but hey, up to you.  What you save in not buying disposable diapers (like $0.14 - $0.35 per diaper) you might spend additional time and money on more laundry detergent and water to clean them..

                    • Start the 529 as soon as the child has a SSN (which hopefully will be within the first month).  The 529 usually falls after retirement accounts and high-interest debt in priority, but the earlier you get money in it, the better.

                    • We use Amazon Prime for our recurrent baby needs (diapers, wipes).  You could consider getting an Amazon card to get the discounts on those.  Assuming $0.15/diaper, $0.02/wipe, 8 diapers/day, 2 wipes/diaper = $1.52/day on a good day, so maybe $50/month on them...with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature, that's 5% back on Amazon purchases and no annual fee...plus all the baby stuff you'll want to buy on Amazon Prime and Amazon Pantry, might want to consider it.

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                    • #11
                      Make sure you both have term life insurance and disability insurance

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                      • #12
                        These are fantastic! I really appreciate all your thoughts and input - thank you!

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                        • #13
                          Yes to all of the above (esp the insurance), plus my two cents on some of the logistics(I agree with a lot of the above!)

                           

                          CHILD CARE-I didnt have kids in residency, but obviously many do and child care is probably going to be your biggest expense. The benefit of a nanny besides being able to work outside of normal daycare hours would also include less chance of illness (esp in the first year); the fact that when your child in daycare does get sick and cannot attend it will be a big stress on you to decide who can call off/step in, etc.; not having to rush around and pack up for daycare in the morning.

                           

                          GEAR, CLOTHES, ETC-keep it as simple as possible! You will likely be showered with stuff, esp newborn through 6 month clothing. For the first year or two especially, the easy, most inexpensive way to go is simple onesies, cotton pants, and sleepers/sleep and plays. Thrift store is cheapest but I am guessing you do not have tons of time to go sifting through racks at the second hand store. I think that Target's baby clothes hold up very well and you can buy shirts, short etc for $4 a pop-still cheaper than most Kohls stuff and Carters as someone mentioned above. Go ahead and get a couple cute outfits in each size for holidays, pictures, events, etc, but otherwise, those cute outfits are expensive, WILL get ruined, and are hard to take on and off easily. I have to put in a plug for the BOB stroller. Even if you do not run/jog, the quality is amazing and believe me, even when you are bone tired, getting out and walking with the baby is good for everyone and a good way to pass the time, explore the world, etc. Malls, farmers markets, parks, your local main street shops, library, etc will keep you plenty busy for now and are free. Same with baby carrier of your choice-someone can get out and about with baby easily which allows the other parent to get a quick nap or some alone time.  My kid never loved the fancy bouncer he had and I didnt buy pricey swings, etc. I went with target brand diapers and when I get them on sale/with gift card offers, I actually spend very little on diapers. Cloth is a lot of work if you're already busy.

                           

                          529 account-I am of the opinion that parents need to assure their own financial security before paying for kids college. 529 may be difficult to fund right now. That's ok!

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                          • #14
                            Can I also just add my 2 cents about the dangers of online baby/parenting forums, the internet, etc. esp for the mom-to-be? There are a lot of crazies out there and just plain mean people who use the disguise and anonymity of the internet to make moms feel terrible about themselves for working, not breastfeeding long enough,etc etc etc. Especially the breast feeding thing. If your wife chooses to and can breast feed/pump/whatever for any length of time, that is great and her choice. But don't let the internet make her feel awful if for some reason she can't or has to stop before she ideally would like to. We get it, "breast is best", but people are just so nasty about this issue online, it is awful. Don't buy into it. Your mental health will be much better.

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                            • #15




                              Can I also just add my 2 cents about the dangers of online baby/parenting forums, the internet, etc. esp for the mom-to-be? There are a lot of crazies out there and just plain mean people who use the disguise and anonymity of the internet to make moms feel terrible about themselves for working, not breastfeeding long enough,etc etc etc. Especially the breast feeding thing. If your wife chooses to and can breast feed/pump/whatever for any length of time, that is great and her choice. But don’t let the internet make her feel awful if for some reason she can’t or has to stop before she ideally would like to. We get it, “breast is best”, but people are just so nasty about this issue online, it is awful. Don’t buy into it. Your mental health will be much better.
                              Click to expand...


                              The Dr. MILK group ************************ near made my wife insane.  She didn't talk to me for a day when I gave our son a bottle of formula because he wasn't wetting diapers.  There are some definitely manic (at least hypomanic, judging by writing style) people in there out to vilify anyone who doesn't exclusively breastfeed.  And, for God's sake, don't EVER look at a picture of anyone's breast milk stash unless you want to invite a massive inferiority complex.  Sure, it's the best thing for everyone if it goes well, but that doesn't mean you're harming your child if you decide to give him other things.

                              Oh, and I'd avoid conversations on PMG for what it's worth, though their recommendations might be useful.  We got a good portable child seat for restaurants, backseat ventilation device, best breast pump, sippy cups, some toys, etc on their recs, but don't engage anyone with anything personal unless you want your a soul-rending in front of everyone.

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