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By Viwe Diyasi, certified financial planner and general manager at Absa

Whether you’ve just found out you’re expecting a bundle of joy, or whether you are already starting to show, it’s never too late to financially plan for your bundle of joy.

In fact, this is true whether you are married, single or divorced when you become a mom.

So, as we head towards Mother’s Day, here are a few financial tips to help you ensure that this is a special day for many years to come.

The first thing you need to be aware of is that planning is key. Plan, plan and plan some more, you cannot over plan for the future of your unborn child.

When you are expecting, you need to take all the milestones into account. These include:

· Pre-birth: you need to take into account hospital bills, medical bill, nappies, finding a nanny or crèche, an education fund.

· Post birth: Medical aid, school deposits, annual fees, extra murals, uniforms, text and school books, clothing (as they grow quickly in the first few years!).

· Post school: By now, you should have an education fund for tertiary education, and a deposit for a car, or have planned for the cost of public transport.

· Post tertiary: Don’t bank on your little bundle of joy moving out of home at 18, or even 25. Help them plan so they can be financially secure enough to flee the nest sooner, rather than later.

These are just a few examples of milestones, and you should speak to a financial advisor to make sure you have all eventualities covered, expected and unexpected. Invest for each milestone, once you have trimmed debt, and ring-fence that amount for each milestone.

Once you’ve worked out what you need to plan for, the next question is how to get there.

Here are some steps you need to take:

⁃ Minimise your debt and so you can start saving!

⁃ Make better choices with regards to your social life, it’s the simple aspects such as cooking rather than getting takeaways, eat in, have your friends around so you don’t need a baby sitter, and save on the cost of an evening out.

⁃ Prioritise the milestones, don’t compromise the important must haves.

⁃ Be open with your kids about money so you impart the knowledge.

⁃ Review your plan monthly.

There are also a few specific life circumstances you may need to take into account, such as if you are divorced. Divorced women suffer the most financially after a divorce because, on average, your ex will earn more than you, and you may have more costs because children mostly live with mom.

To avoid heart-stopping moments after a divorce, or end of a partnership, couples must be open with each other about money during the union.

And, as a single parent, whether through divorce or because of other reasons, it becomes key to clean up your finances, reduce debt and manage expenditure.

As a single parent, you may need more life insurance, which will solve the ‘who will look after my child if something were to happen and I am unable to provide for my kids’. That’s where life insurance is necessary, and insurance can also cover you if you fall ill.

Stay at home moms

This could prove to be a more challenging option than going back to work, although there are many rewards. If you decide to go this route, first work out if it’s affordable. You also need to have a concrete financial plan to work out whether this is possible – including identifying any pitfalls, and potential future events, and plan for those too.

Other tips include:

⁃ Consider a part time job you can do from home

⁃ Make sure there’s shared ownership of assets to protect yourself from unknown future

⁃ A plan on how to replace your invaluable contribution to the family in case something happens to you.

Overall, always remember to save for your retirement. With so many tax benefits, it’s impossible to ignore these advantages, and make sure that you are putting away enough so that you don’t crimp your lifestyle when you stop working.

Have an updated will, at all times.

Don’t forget to reward yourself, and don’t be scared to ask for what’s due to you, be it maintenance, or a raise at work. Take charge of your finances, and your finances will take care of you.

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