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About The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents. A practical approach to affording your kids from cradle to college.
Table of contents

Illustrations: p. Introduction: Now the Fun Begins 1. Your Maternity or Paternity Leave 9. Kis sing That Cubicle Good-bye Returning to the Grind Where Should You Nest?

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Finding and Paying for Mary Poppins Accidents Happen. Are You Prepared? Money-Saving Tips for Every Stage No one ever said having children was easy. First there are the a. And on top of the stress of caring for a child, you have to figure out how to cover all the expenses for one. Ready for sticker shock? Department of Agriculture. Add a second child and you had better expect to spend twice as much.

Sorry, folks, few economies of scale to be found here. Fortunately, there is a solution: planning. Immediate expenses—such as outfitting a nursery—always seem to trump efforts to fund longer-term goals. After my daughter was born, I, too, found the experi- ence bewildering and intimidating, and I write about this stuff. But—and this is good news! My husband and I attacked the project in three steps. First, we put our estate in order, then we set a budget for our immediate needs; finally, we tackled the proverbial elephant in the room—the college savings account.

The challenge, of course, was how to balance all of this while continuing to fund our retirement. We quickly realized that the only way to make our finan- cial plan work was by keeping our baby-related spending to a minimum. Unfortunately, it proved much more difficult than we imagined not to get caught up in the race to keep up with the other moms and dads. While I was parking my perfectly ad- equate stroller at a playgroup one afternoon, one mom looked inquisitively at me and finally asked if I had left my Bugaboo at home.

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For you that one ex- travagant thing might be the Bugaboo, having a baby nurse or throwing a lavish first-birthday party. So for all of you parents who want to provide a secure fu-. Draft a will and name a guardian.

How to Insure Your Children's Financial Future

Draw up a trust and name a trustee. Buy life insurance and consider a life insurance trust. Track your spending and develop a family budget. Continue to set aside money for retirement. Take advantage of child-friendly tax credits and deductions. Set up a college fund only if you can afford it. Set up a savings plans for other long-term goals, including a larger home.

Reassess your budget as your situation changes additional kids, change in child care needs, etc. Financial Guidebook for New Parents pro- vides your road map. This book is broken down into three sections.

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This section will also discuss strategies to help stay-at-home parents work part-time to help keep their foot in the door, and how to reen- ter the workforce once the kids start school. But some parents may find child care is so expensive that it actually costs them money to go to work.

While there are some pretty gener- ous deductions and credits for the taking, families should be aware that many of them start to phase out as couples hit cer- tain income levels. Most couples find they want more space when baby makes three. But a move from the city to the sub- urbs may not make as much financial sense as people think once they factor in such extra costs as two cars and a commute. Even the cost of upgrading to a larger home or a roomier car can be more expensive than parents expect, once mainte- nance and gas are included in the equation.

The second half of the chapter will clarify what to look for in a policy and which rid- ers are worth the extra money. This book will walk you through all the financial hits most parents with young children take, and it will help you fend them off. Having children is expensive. But with a little planning, you can raise your brood and still have enough left over for a comfortable retirement. This book will help you get there. Plan ahead and start building a reserve fund to help you afford all the time off that your employer allows.

C Now brace yourself for some unwelcome news. Along with hemorrhoids and hormonal mood swings, meager mater- nity benefits are just one more harsh reality that no one warns pregnant women about. That means that if you work for a large company, you may get only twelve weeks of unpaid leave. The truth is that maternity leave is only the first of many financial challenges that will come your way as new parents.

But along with learning how to change diapers and swaddle a newborn, you can master managing your money at this more complicated stage of your life, too. With some careful planning and a bit of discipline, you should be able to afford to take as much time to bond with your baby as your employer allows. Her em- ployer was generous and offered all of its female employees six months of maternity leave.

What was her secret? Before Jennifer got pregnant she found out how much time her company would allow her to spend with a baby.

The Executor's Guide

She then started setting aside a little money. These three steps will help you get there. See page 13 for more on what employers are legally required to provide. The worksheet on page in the Appendix can help you get started. For ideas on how to do this, see page But soon after Jennifer conceived that plan hit a snag. At that point What about dads? Under the FMLA, men enough to carry them should they who work for a large employer both be out of work at the same or a public agency are entitled time. A couple of months later, David Leibowitz, an attorney and Steven found a new job and Jen- father of three, took full advan- nifer started saving much more tage of the law.

He has since put her on disability. But once she arrived, Jen- ples to survive without any money nifer and Steven knew the sacri- coming in for three months. In- fice was worth it. While it may be tempting to live off your credit cards for a little while, the reality is that your expenses will only increase.

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Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of FMLA , public agencies and employers with at least fifty employees are required to give new parents only twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Paternity leave, however, is unpaid under the FMLA. Many companies, however, do have short-term disability insurance for their employees. In some cases you may also are entitled to twelve weeks of be able to tap into your sick days. Sounds pretty good, right? That works out to the equiva- lent of a full paycheck for just five weeks.

Your employer cannot fill out the forms on your behalf.