Children are never cheap, but healthcare for your child can get extremely expensive. To protect your budget from a big shock, do your best to have an emergency fund. Additionally, you may also have to look for a job that can allow you to work from home if your children get sick.
Budget for Time Off of Work
Being prepared to take time off work is critical especially when your child is very young. Even a small cold can be dangerous when your baby is really young, so if you plan to go back to work shortly after your maternity leave, be aware that full-time work may not be possible.
If you and your partner can make it work, you may be able to use unpaid Family Medical Leave to allow your baby the least exposure to the outside world by having the breastfeeding parent stay home for 12 weeks, then switching places and letting the other parent take over for 12 weeks. Baby will get plenty of time with both parents and you will be able to get a solid breastfeeding schedule set up.
Prepare for Braces
Get your children assessed for braces when they are young so you have an idea of what the process will cost. For older children or young adults that did not get the spreader hardware in place in time, consider getting clip on veneers if you are not able to afford or tolerate the surgery option.
Once you have the total dollar amount of what braces will cost, try to get the expenses for this covered by your company flex plan. Even if you cannot cover the whole cost, a flex plan payment schedule can reduce your taxable income while covering this sizable expense.
Schedule Eye Exams and Wait for New Glasses
Try to get your eye exams done in the late fall and find out which child will need new glasses. Add to your flex deduction and get the new glasses ordered in the spring, after the flex balance reloads. Another option is to buy glasses online or just take your prescription to a discount optometrist.
For children’s glasses, try to get them in a basic color. It can be tempting to invest in super cute glasses in unique colors, but green glass frames will get old over time. A simple frame will be a bit more boring, but it will appear fresher longer.
Use Your Company Flex Offerings
As noted above, using any available flexible spending dollars can be a great way to budget for health expenses for the whole family.
Be aware that the pandemic may have changed the rules for your flexible spending account. Additionally, do your best to make sure that you do not set up a large flexible spending deduction unless you know you will be spending the money or you may lose it.
Make Healthy Actions a Priority
As a family, make healthy actions a priority. Nobody gets on a bike without a helmet, even grownups. Nobody handles a power tool without eye protection. Everybody puts together their plate with a percentage of fresh veggies, and the whole family flosses together.
Even with the best insurance, it only takes one nasty fall from a tree in the backyard to lead to
- broken bones
- torn ligaments
Once you are sure your child will be all right, you will now need to deal with insurance hassles, your deductible, and additional out-of-pocket expenses. This does not mean your child should not play in the tree in the backyard. However, this does mean that climbers need supervised and that the wonderful spot for a treehouse needs to be thoroughly checked out by a grown-up before the kids crawl up there and start building.
Finally, be ready to ask for help. You may be able to get the payables department at the hospital to write off part of a bill, or you may be able to set up a payment plan. Get in habit of stashing money in an emergency fund. If your goal is to save six months of living expenses and you currently have zero dollars, set up mini goals. Save up enough to cover utilities, then save up enough to cover rent, then aim for the utilities again.