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By Jaclyn Lim
 
From choosing a paediatrician to decorating the nursery to sorting out money matters, parents-to-be have lots to do before welcoming their baby into the world. That’s why it’s perfectly normal for you to feel a little overwhelmed with the tasks and responsibilities ahead.
 

To make things a little easier for you, we invite Ms Anne Tay, Senior Manager of Financial Services from Anne Tay & Associates, Prestige Raffles Branch representing Manulife (Singapore), to list out the financial must-dos in the nine months leading up to the arrival of your bundle of joy.

 

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It’s not enough to just make appointments with the gynaecologist – you need to do a thorough financial health check-up too. Says Anne: “When you discover your pregnancy, assess your current financial situation either on your own or with a qualified financial adviser.”
 

Follow these steps:

  1. Note down the total income of your spouse and yourself
  2. Note down the total expenses of your spouse and yourself. This includes household expenses, entertainment, mortgages, credit card payments, car expenses, parents’ allowances and insurance premiums.
  3. Find out how much savings you have each month i.e. total income less total expenses.

 

“Review your expenses as you will need to channel your resources to your new baby,” says Anne. “Discuss with your spouse on means to tighten the family’s purse strings, such as cutting down on fine-dining and purchases of luxury goods.”

 

Next, budget. “Creating a budget will guide you to spend more wisely for the next nine months,” suggests Anne. “One way to motivate yourselves is to calculate how much savings you’re able to have if you stick closely to your budget till the time of delivery.”

 

Save for a rainy day. Ensure that you have at least six months of savings or expenses (whichever is higher). Anne says: “This is a rainy day fund for your family to cover any possible emergencies.”

 

Clear as much debt as possible. “This is the time to start structuring debt repayments over the next few months, so that you can start on a clean slate when your baby arrives,” says Anne. “Be mindful not to incur more debts, so go easy on your credit cards.”

 

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Now that you’ve settled your own financial affairs, it’s time to sort out what the baby and the mother will need. This includes medical care , milk powder, diapers, baby clothes and a confinement lady.
 

“If you live within your budget, you will have extra savings to cope with new, baby-related expenditures,” explains Anne. “But sometimes, you might need to fine-tune the budget even further to accommodate these extra expenses.”


At the same time, discuss how you would like to share the expenses of raising a child. “This is also the time to decide whether there is a need for a joint account to manage the child’s expenses,” says Anne.


If one parent is planning to stay home during the first year, this is also the time to start planning how to handle the drop in income. “For instance, you could beef up savings even more,” says Anne. “Or the stay-at-home parent might wish to engage in freelance work for additional source of income.”

 

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As the mummy’s tummy grows bigger, it is now time to research on hospital-related expenses. You should have decided on the hospital for delivery by now. Check out the maternity packages available. Prices usually differ by hospitals, as well as the type of room and services rendered.
 

Anne says: “You might be able to claim Medisave for your doctor’s and hospital fees.”

 

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With less than four months left before baby arrives, it’s time to start shopping for things that your baby will need in time to come. Make a shopping list, and try your best not to go overboard. Remember, babies grow out of clothes really quickly, so it wouldn’t be wise to splurge on too many of them.

Anne suggests: “From collecting hand-me-downs from friends and family (make sure they are still in good condition and safe for use!) to checking out baby fairs, find ways to save on shopping costs.”
 
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At this time, manage your risks. Anne says: “Now that a baby is arriving, your responsibilities will increase. You have to make sure that your little one is covered should anything happen to you or your spouse.”
 

Basically, you need to ensure that any risk you are unable to handle is not retained but transferred to the insurance company through the purchase of insurance policies.

 

This means you should review your own insurance plans. Make sure you have sufficient coverage on life, critical illnesses, hospital and surgical (H&S) plans. Beyond that, you should start getting informed on plans to save up for your baby’s education, as well as his or her hospital and surgical needs.

 

Also check if you have any liabilities that you need to hedge against. Anne says: “For instance, if you have an outstanding mortgage, you might need a mortgage-reducing term. This ensures that your family members have a roof over their heads should any unfortunate event strikes the breadwinner.”

 

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The baby’s almost here. “Review your savings to ensure everything has gone according to plan,” says Anne.
 
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It’s now time to look forward to the arrival of your baby. Rest well, be prepared emotionally for the birth and do not worry about financial matters at this point! 
 

 

Maybe Baby would like to thank Ms Anne Tay, Senior Manager of Financial Services from Anne Tay & Associates, Prestige Raffles Branch representing Manulife (Singapore), for her professional input.

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