financial stressHaving a child is an exciting and life-changing experience, but the hectic nature of the preparations can leave some parents in the dark about the actual costs of raising a baby. Studies have shown that raising a child from birth to the age of 18 costs $241,080 on average, which does not include the cost of college tuition.

Plan Ahead for Medical Costs
If you don't have good insurance, now is a good time to get it. Babies come with an incredible amount of medical costs: pediatrician visits, emergency room flu visits, vaccinations and more. Many parents are staggered when they realize that they have anywhere from a $20 to $150 co-pay on each medical visit.

Expect Your Utility Bills to Double
The most surprising expense that new parents face has to do with gas, electricity and water bills. With a new baby, you and your spouse will be awake and active around the clock. You will also be washing dishes and doing laundry more often. You should expect that all of your utility bills will increase accordingly, and in some areas this increase can be quite substantial.

Evaluate Your Space
The largest expense for many new parents is actually one that many of them have already evaluated and believed they won't need. Many new parents find themselves purchasing a larger car or a larger home within the first few years of their child's birth. Even though you may feel as though your car or home is a suitable size, you may want to strongly consider whether it will remain large enough after the birth of your child.

Prepare for Less Income

In households where both parents contribute to the income, many parents underestimate the effect a child will have on their paychecks. This is especially true if one or both parents work on an hourly rather than salary basis. Either parent may have to take more time off than they anticipated, either due to a sick child or because of scheduled care such as vaccinations.

Breastfeeding Doesn't Solve Everything

Many mothers who decide to breastfeed see it as a cheaper and healthier option than formula. While it may be healthier, it's not necessarily cheaper. Mothers who go this route still need to purchase bottles, an expensive breast pump, nursing shirts, nursing bras, cover-ups and more. The total expenses will likely add up to more than $500. The good news is that this can be a one-time investment.

While having a child may be expensive, the good news is that people successfully navigate these financial waters every day. As long as you are prepared and do your research, there's no reason to believe you can't dodge the mistakes that many new parents have made before you.

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