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Growing Family

Experiencing growth in your family presents one of the most joyful moments of life whether you’re getting married, having a baby, adopting, or entering a new relationship. However, life changes always significantly impact your finances. During these times it makes sense to get some things figured out.

Things to know:  

  • Consider three main areas when your family grows: changes in income, added living expenses, and event expenses.
  • Talk through priorities and goals. Make a plan for how to move forward as a team.
  • Expect added costs and plan for them wisely.
  • Check your credit reports before major life changes to be prepared:
  • With family changes, it’s always important to think about long-term financial issues such as wills, health-care proxy, life insurance, retirement, and more.
  • Communicating & Preparing

    Even if it seems challenging at first, taking steps to plan and organize will keep you on track in the long run. Over time as your thoughts are placed into action, you’ll make positive decisions. Knowing your goals and, if you are married or in an extended family or partnership, communicating as a team will help your family share in the peace and satisfaction that good money management creates.

    There is no “best way” for everyone, only the “best way” for your family. However, there are a few things that you should talk about right away. Here are a few beginning thoughts:

    Finance Area
    Questions to Answer
    Finance AreaBank Accounts
    • Joint vs. separate
    • Debit cards
    • Savings
    Questions to Answer
    • Do we want checking and savings?
    • What will we use debit cards for?
    • How will we contribute to savings?
    • How will we keep track?
    • Do we want joint, separate, or both?
    • Decide what financial tools work best for you and your family.
    • Both parties have 100% rights to all funds in a joint account like checking or savings.
    • Communication is key to keep track of a joint account.
    Finance AreaBudgeting
    • Goals
    • Expenses
    • Bill paying
    • Tracking
    Questions to Answer
    • What are our financial goals?
    • How much will our total income be for one month?
    • How much will our combined expenses be for one month?
    • How much will our combined expenses end up being?
    • Who will be responsible for paying each bill?
    • How will we track our spending?
    Finance AreaBorrowing
    • Use of credit cards
    • Level of loans or debt
    Questions to Answer
    • How much debt do we owe altogether?
    • What are our current credit scores?
    • What will we use credit cards for?
    • What will we borrow for?
    • How much debt are we comfortable with?
    • It's important to check your credit reports before a major life change​. Go to:
    • Allowances are helpful for budgeting day-to-day spending.
    • Debts carried into and incurred during marriage become both parties' debts during and after marriage.
    Finance AreaInsurance Coverage
    • Health
    • Life
    • Property
    • Liability
    Questions to Answer
    • Does the upcoming change require different coverage?
    • Whose employer offers better insurance?
    • Is an increase in coverage needed?
    • Additional persons in the family increase the potential amount of insurance needed. Refer to Life Insurance Cheat Sheet for a quick reference.
    Finance AreaTaxes
    • Filing status
    • Withholding
    Questions to Answer
    • Do we want to change our filing status?
    • Do we need to change our withholding from our paychecks?
    • It's best to speak with a tax professional to learn what's best.
    • Added children require additional tax considerations.

    Use Money Talk Workbook to document your discussions and planning.

  • Added Costs

    As your family grows, your spending plan changes as well. There will be additional costs that vary depending upon your specific circumstances – childcare, insurance, food, clothing, etc. No matter what the situation, it’s important to consider three main areas when your family grows: changes in income, added living expenses, and event expenses.

    To figure out these added costs, take time to evaluate. Asking the right questions is critical to seeing the big picture clearly. Start by making a list and answering these questions to start:

    Changes in income:

    • Will the job status of any family members change?
    • Will anyone involved need time off from work?
    • How much time will be required?
    • How much paid time off will be provided?
    • How much will unpaid time off total?

    Added living expenses:

    • How much more will be needed for basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc.?
    • What are the new expenses that will be created?
    • What do we need to budget for monthly to cover these expenses?

    Event expenses (marriage, birth, adoption, etc.):

    • How much will the event cost?
    • How much will we need to save to cover the cost of the event?

    For a helpful tool to figure the costs of your growing family, check out “Added Costs of a Growing Family.”

  • Things to Think About

    There are always things that go deeper than the immediate costs associated with family changes. There are also many long-term financial considerations to figure out. Following is a checklist of key areas to make sure you have in place as soon as possible:

    Things to think about:
    (Print this page and use this checklist to keep track of your progress.)

    Area of Concern
    Additional Information
    Area of ConcernHealth Care Proxy
    Additional InformationSetting up a health care proxy is different in each state. Explore to learn about setting up a health care proxy in New York State.
    Area of ConcernLife Insurance
    Additional InformationTo learn the basics of life insurance, check out
    Area of ConcernHealth Insurance
    Additional InformationFor tips about choosing a health insurance plan, go to
    Area of ConcernTax Changes
    Additional InformationTo learn more about tax filing status, go to
    Area of ConcernRetirement Plan
    Additional InformationLearn more about saving for retirement.
    Area of ConcernEmergency Fund
    Additional InformationLearn about creating an emergency fund.