Birth of a Child

Chances are, you can close your eyes right now and picture the birth of each of your children -- their  fresh, scrunched-up faces, the music of that first cry, the overwhelming feeling that your life had changed and your heart had expanded.

Someone probably told you beforehand that children cost money. You doubtless spent nights hunched over a budget or poring over doctor bills, trying to figure out where the old money went and where the new money is going to go.

Those worries disappear when you lock eyes with a new life and know all your child needs in that moment is you. There is no finer feeling, and no greater human joy.

The problem is, the worries all come back when you're pacing the floor at 3 a.m. with a crying newborn. Formula costs $25, diapers cost $25, and you've been wearing the same clothes for five days because you're out of laundry soap, but everyone is too tired to go and buy any.

Wouldn't it be great to know you're got the money in the bank to pay for the things you need, rather than adding your budget to the list of things you have to stress over while you operate on two hours of sleep a night?

If you're a parent, you've been there, and you know what a loving gesture it can be to help your children start saving early to avoid some of the monetary pitfalls a young family can face.

If you're not a parent yet, but you plan to be one: Get ready. It's coming.

Luckily, setting realistic savings goals before the happy event can make things much easier when the baby arrives. And it can also allow working mothers to take more time off from work without worrying about paying the bills -- something crucial to the 87% of American workers without paid family leave.

While we've listed a recommended savings goal based upon national averages and some other baby-related math, we suggest you review your budget and plan to save a percentage of the amount of money you'd need to live on for the first three months after the baby arrives. This applies to homes where Mom stays home, as well. Complications arise unexpectedly -- it's important to have funds available in case Dad needs to take time off to care for everyone, too.

If you're feeling ambitious, calculate the full amount of money you'd need to cover the maximum allotted 12 weeks of family leave, and make that your goal.

Recommended minimum savings goal: $3,000

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