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Nine months of pregnancy may seem like a long time if you are the one with swollen ankles and crazy food cravings. But those months also are an exciting prelude to your next phase of life, and provide important time for you to plan ahead. Here are nine ways to use those nine months to your advantage.
Take Care of You
First things first, take care of your own health and well-being. If you don’t have an established healthcare provider, get recommendations from friends and check your health insurance for providers in your network. Schedule your appointments far in advance to avoid delays in seeing your doctor. Closely review your health insurance so you understand what it covers in maternity care. Now’s a good time to calculate any out-of-pocket medical costs you may have as well.
Especially if it’s your first baby, savor these quiet months to start educating yourself on pregnancy and parenting. Start a journal where you can document the experience — and continue it as your child grows up. You’ll be amazed at how much you forget over the years while you are busy parenting.
Research Child Care
Even if it is early in your pregnancy, it is not too soon to start researching child care options. Does one parent plan to stay at home for an extended period? If not, you have several options — in-home day care, day care centers, a nanny, a grandparent, or other family member. Start by writing down your pros and cons of each option you are considering. Ask friends for recommendations. Make drop-in, unannounced visits to centers or homes on your list for a first-hand look at their staffing, cleanliness, and activities underway. Do babies appear happy and well cared for? Do they meet state staffing ratios?
Prepare Your Home
When baby makes three, your tiny one-bedroom apartment will quickly become even tighter. If you’ve been saving to buy a home, talk to a lending professional to get prequalified for a loan. That will speed your loan process, and it could make a purchase offer more enticing to a seller. If you already own a home, these nine months provide plenty of time to set up the nursery, buy any furniture needed, and start baby-proofing the house.
Review Your Budget
Babies aren’t cheap. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that middle-income, one-child parents spend around $17,000 in the first year of baby’s life. The National Diaper Bank Network says to plan on about six to 10 diaper changes a day — at a cost of around $80 per month. And if you aren’t breastfeeding, add on another $150 or so per month for formula. Add to that child care, equipment, furniture, medical care — you get the picture. Take a good look at your budget, and make adjustments if needed to factor in the little one’s living expenses.
Rethink Your Vehicles
Gasp! It may be time to ditch the two-seater. While you might not be ready for a mini-van, you will need a safe, comfortable car for your growing family. Before browsing the dealerships or used car lots, get a pre-approval letter and electronic vehicle buyer’s check to speed the process and help you negotiate a better deal. And once you’ve found the perfect vehicle, don’t forget the car seat!
Becoming a parent means new responsibility for another’s life. And that gives new meaning to the importance of life and disability insurance coverage. Review any existing policies to be sure they provide adequate coverage. Double check beneficiaries designated.
Medical insurance policies deserve a good review as well. You likely didn’t pay much attention to well-baby coverage before, so familiarize yourself with those benefits now. Research pediatricians in your network, get recommendations, and meet them in person far in advance of delivery.
Plan for the Future
It may seem a bit premature to be thinking about kid’s savings and college savings, but the sooner you start, the better prepared you and your child will be. The average cost of Texas in-state tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year was $10,824 – and those costs continue to rise. Opening a simple savings account is an easy place to start, and a great place to sock away monetary baby gifts. A custodial account, 529 college savings fund, or education savings account are also options to help plan for your child’s future.
Enjoy Some Downtime
While you are doing all that reading, researching, and planning, don’t forget to take some time for you.
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