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The BabyTalk Financial Guide

Merging your money when you got married was probably tricky enough, but making the financial formula work when a baby is added to the mix is a lot more complicated. Feel overwhelmed by the prospect? Here's a handy guide you can use as a checklist while you manage your money.

Saving While Expecting

The earlier you start saving for daycare, college tuition, and retirement, the more money you'll have in the bank when you need it -- so begin now. Not sure how? Write down your long-term financial goals, and assign a dollar amount (we'll tell you how) and a due date to each. Then follow our checklist to stay on target as your savings grow along with your new baby.

  • Review your health insurance coverage. Many employer-sponsored group health policies automatically cover children as dependents, but double-check your plan to make sure it offers this benefit, and don't forget to fill out the necessary paperwork. You should also find out if your prenatal visits, your birthing facility, planned type of delivery, well-baby care, and immunizations are covered.

    $ TIP: If you don't have health insurance, your hospital may offer a special short-term-care package. Ask your doctor or the hospital's patient relations department for more information.

  • Get the details on your maternity leave. If you're planning to go back to work, be sure to go over your rights and benefits with a company representative and nail down your maternity leave plans with your boss.

  • Manage your debt. If your credit-card balances have gotten out of hand, now's the time to start reining them in. Here's how: Write down what you owe on each card, and then find out each account's annual percentage rate (APR). Pay off the card with the highest APR first by paying as much as you can on each bill, then move on to the card with the next highest APR.

  • Create a special savings account. You might need extra money for a few medical expenses that aren't covered by your insurance (like an extra day in the hospital), as well as for birth announcements, diapers, clothes, and other essential baby items. Try to sock around $250 in an interest-bearing account (like a money-market fund) that can be easily tapped on short notice so you'll have some cash on hand when you need it most.

    $ TIP: To find the best yields on CDs and money-market funds (and lots of other neat financial stuff), log on to bankrate.com or call 561-627-7330.

  • Reshuffle your budget. Adding baby-related items to your expenses column means you'll have to cut out some of your regular expenditures so that you still come out ahead. Sit down with your partner and decide together how you're going to make things work.
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