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Ask MP: Pay Off Debt Before Second Child?

The decision is a personal one, but there are a few things you can do to gauge your own financial readiness. First, remember that, in addition to expenses, a new baby brings some uncertainty--unexpected medical costs, for example. So it's smart to have an emergency fund of at least two months' worth of expenses (and more is better).

Next, take a look at your debt. If you're putting more than a third of your income toward car and student loans, mortgage payments, and credit cards, putting off that second child may be wise for now. (As might be seeing a credit counselor.) Last, nail down your second-baby budget. Use expenses from baby #1 to project costs; double-check your maternity-leave policy; research insurance increases; ask babysitters and daycare facilities for rates; check your baby equipment (need a new car seat?)--and think of all the ways you'll save now that you're a smarter mom.

ASK THE MOM SQUAD
MP Dunleavey
Our financial expert is author of Money Can Buy Happiness and mom of a 3-year-old. Send her questions at momsquad@parenting.com.

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