Baby Steps

Sept. 7 By Meenakshi Nawani

It’s safe to say that becoming a mother tops the list of the best things that have happened in my life thus far! I find myself viewing the world around me with a brand new perspective where I’m no longer the epicenter. Overnight, I’ve become conscious of the same world being scary and treacherous but filled with wonderment and magic all at once as I alternate between my children’s lenses and mine.

As with a typical soon-to-be-new parent, it was an exhilarating experience on an emotional level. But as a couple, we were all too aware of the financial overhaul that was coming our way. My husband and I understood that we could no longer be frivolous with our expenses. Impromptu trips became a thing of the past. Fancy dining could not be easily justified anymore. We even took a stab at finding creative cheap date outings. It was an eye-opening experience.

While we are relatively young and new in our parental journey with two beautiful kids, now five and two years old, in tow, here’s my learning as I continue on the beautiful ride. First, it’s important to identify your financial goals as a family. Financial objectives indeed change dramatically after becoming a parent. We initially found ourselves torn between starting to save for college, putting away for our retirement, paying the mortgage in addition to our regular expenses. Planning and doing things in ‘baby’ steps certainly makes the process simpler. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged when your savings goal seems unreachable or is spread thin with being pulled in many directions. But over time, we realized that putting some priorities on the bottom of the list to cater to the more important ones went a long way in helping us. We also sit down together every six months or thereabouts to review our objectives.

Budgeting and tracking where we are spending on an ongoing basis is crucial to staying on top of objectives. Housing and related living costs can rise considerably owing to a growing family size, and budgeting every month to reflect those added expenses gives a clear picture of the information one needs to move forward. Once our older one was about a year old, we started automating our savings and certain payments. That forced us to prioritize and manage the rest of the expenses with what was left.

Last but not the least, life insurance is an important consideration that cannot be overstated. It’s crucial to choose a policy that’s robust enough to make up for lost income, help provide for the family’s future living, educational and possible medical expenses. In addition to that, we are also working on creating an emergency fund that might come in handy, if heavens forbid, there are some unforeseen expenses that crop up in the future.

Becoming a parent has definitely sparked my desire to take better care of myself for the sake of my children. The appreciation and patience toward my own parents has grown manifold. Like they say – When you become a parent, the days are long, but the years are short – so live it dearly before it passes too quickly!