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Budgeting For Baby: Hidden Costs of Going Back to Work

Budgeting for baby is best done when all possible scenarios are played out. Here are 4 surprising ways you can financially prepare for baby's arrival.

It’s smart to plan for the future, and sometimes, that means anticipating the arrival of a baby. As parents save up for baby gear, clothing and diapers, it’s easy to overlook the hidden costs of returning to work after the initial parental leave.

Budgeting for a baby is a good move, and you’ll want to include all potential costs, so you’re not surprised when it’s time to go back to your day job. Here are 4 unexpected expenses you might encounter when returning to work.

 4 unexpected expenses you might encounter when returning to work.

  1. Transportation costs. Before having a baby, your commute simply took you to work, then home. Now, if you’re dropping the baby off with a caregiver, you’ll be spending time and money on gas and mileage that you didn’t need to shell out before. It might not seem like much at first, but a few miles out of your way there-and-back each day can add up quickly.
  2. Time off work. You may have dreams of using your accrued time off for vacations, but with a new baby, you should plan on spending at least some of those hours caring for your little one. For example, many child care facilities close for public holidays and winter break, even though you aren’t granted the same time away. Also, your child’s day care or preschool will likely expect your participation in parent-leader conferences and volunteer involvement. And of course, just when you think all is going well, your child will come down with a common runny nose, which means you’ll need to keep her home, using your own sick days to nurture her back to health.
  3. Childcare extras. You might have a budget item already devoted to general child care, but did you include fees for when you occasionally run late for pickup? What about tax charged at your child’s day care center? Registration charges? Also, most day care establishments have add-on activities that cost. Sure, you can opt out, but most parents don’t want their kids to have to watch while all the other children experience those extras. For example, educational visits from professional gymnasts or chefs, field trips, and more elaborate crafts that require funds for materials. Some day care centers ask parents to contribute tissues and wipes, as well as seasonal treats like Valentines, Easter eggs, holiday gift exchanges, and birthday treats to share. Finally, expect your child’s day care to promote at least one or two charitable fundraiser effort. Again, you can opt out of many extras, but some are unavoidable.
  4. Work clothing. Believe it or not, having kids takes a toll on your professional wardrobe. Even if you’re careful, spit-up, juice, pureed peas, and finger paints can find a way to soil an otherwise dependable ensemble. For parents who stay home, casual clothing can usually withstand the harsh detergents needed to get these stains out. Office attire, on the other hand, usually means delicate fabric that needs extra care, and that comes with a price tag. When budgeting for baby, don’t forget to build in a cushion for the occasional mishap.

When your little bundle of joy arrives and it’s time to head back to work, don’t be discouraged by the little hits to your pocketbook. Instead, prepare early by building in some financial padding to absorb the costs that otherwise would have surprised you and derailed your budget. If you’re behind on bills or otherwise stretched too thin to save up, call a nonprofit credit counselor at CESI for a free consultation. You may qualify for a debt management plan, which can help build room into your budget to save for these hidden costs.


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