Having a baby is among the most important decisions that you can take in your life as a woman. Babies are wonderful, but there is no denying that they completely change your body and brain chemistry – and your bank account.
If you’ve plans to become a mother, good luck. But while you figure out if you’re mentally ready to take on the responsibility of a child, spare some time to make sure you’re financially ready as well.
Hate to break this to you ladies, but babies are ridiculously expensive. You’ll be paying doctors consulting fees every month during your pregnancy, apart from scan costs, maternity clothes, the actual cost of labour and childbirth and the assorted paraphernalia required for the baby like a car seat, stroller, breast pump, formula, bottles, diapers (I am just getting started here) and more. Begin setting aside money every month the moment you decide to try for a child. You’re going to need every penny.
Get Yourself Health Insurance
Invest in health insurance before you start planning for baby, because it will help you cover any unexpected hospital expenses that may arise during the course of your pregnancy. Some policies even cover the cost of child birth for a slightly higher premium.
Health insurance is also tax friendly - you can deduct premium paid under section 80D up to Rs. 25,000. Health insurance comes with fine print, so make sure you ask your insurance representative ask what’s included before you write the cheque.
Think About Your Maternity Leave
If you’re a working woman, you need to think about your maternity leave and understand your organisation’s policy when it comes to maternity leave as well. In India, you’re entitled to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave. Think about how you want to split the leave days between your pregnancy and after childbirth. Every pregnancy is different, but the general consensus is that it’s best to save your leave days for after the baby is born.
Will You Retain Your Job?
So many women end up quitting their jobs after their pregnancy or after giving birth. Some do this out of choice, to take on parenting by the horns and some quit out of familial pressure. I would personally recommend you to retain your job.
It is your choice, of course, but I would also like to remind you of two things - the first is that India has one of the most generous maternity leave policies in the world. Take advantage of it, for quitting makes you a statistic that “the industry” likes to cite as a reason for not hiring more women. The second is that your salary will be very valuable for your baby’s future. Giving a child a quality education and life costs good money, and every rupee counts.
Additionally, you’ll have autonomy over the money you make, so you can save or spend it any way you want.
Even if you absolutely have to quit your job, you can always consider freelancing. Apart from the extra money, it’ll give you time to focus on something that’s not baby related, which is invaluable when you’re a new parent.
Having a baby will change your life in many ways and in order to make sure that you have a mostly pleasant ride through parenting, sort out your financial situation before you get pregnant. Your baby will thank you for it.
Rupee Rani is a weekly column on finance for women. Write to us with your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org.