5 financial tips for new parents

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Amanda Ritter, a 2017 BYU grad, and her husband, Nick, pose with their son, Calvin. Amanda Ritter said while she was pregnant she benefitted from talking to insurance representatives in person rather than on the phone about her maternity plan questions. (Amanda Ritter)

Editor’s note: this story pairs with “Young Utah parents struggle with maternity costs”

One area where new parents face confusion is finances.

How does one prepare financially for having a child? How do insurance maternity plans work? What potential pregnancy or birth situations could unexpectedly throw off a budget?

These and many more questions can add to the stress of becoming a parent. Here are five tips to help clear up some maternity financial confusion:

1. Save money

Dr. Randall Pace, a family doctor in Provo, said many times couples do not plan far enough ahead.

“It costs a lot of money to have a baby, and they continue to cost money,” Pace said.

Pace suggested making a financial plan not just for the pregnancy and birth, but also for the additional costs that come with caring for a baby.

Laura Bangerter, a freelance writer from Payson, said she and her husband prepared for having their son by starting a health savings account. By setting up the account, Bangerter said she didn’t have to worry much when unexpected maternity bills came her way.

2. Communicate with insurance providers the right way

Amanda Ritter, a 2017 BYU graduate, said she soon realized she was not getting anywhere while asking questions about her maternity plan with her insurance provider over the phone.

“We found out very quickly they often didn’t know very much on the phone line,” Ritter said. “We actually had to go in, and that was when stuff got done.”

Many insurance companies offer information on their websites. And whenever talking with representatives on the phone is not helpful, there is always the option of asking to be transferred to the person’s supervisor or asking questions in person.

3. Go into detail with your medical team

Typically, expecting couples stick with the same medical expert throughout pregnancy and birth. Right at the beginning, expected mothers should ask the medical personnel to go over the expected costs and don’t be afraid to ask them any questions.

Pace said he prefers to separate himself from the financial aspects of treating his patients, so he has his maternity patients meet with a manager at the beginning to go over a financial plan.

“My manager goes over all the financial obligations with them so they know how it works,” Pace said.

4. Keep detailed records

Keeping an organized record of medical bills can help expecting parents steer clear of confusion.

“I always caution my friends to keep really good records so that if something comes up and you don’t know what it is, you can call about it,” Bangerter said.

Bangerter, who is now pregnant with her second child, said this time around she plans to keep detailed record of the dates and events of her doctor appointments and medical testing.

5. Realize maternity costs always feel daunting

Pace said he would not advise couples to put off having a child because they do not feel financially ready yet.

“A common problem is that I see a lot of couples will feel like they need everything in order financially and then biologically they are behind,” Pace said. “They burn up all their years of fertility. At about 35, the risk of complications increases. Then they find that they can’t have as many kids as they want, with ironically expensive complications.”

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