Hearing the ultrasound tech tell you that you aren’t expecting just one baby, but two, or three (or more!) is life changing. And somewhat terrifying! Twins and other multiples can decimate your finances. That’s why it is more important than ever to get your finances in order.
I am by no means an expert on most of these things (read: not a financial adviser), failing horribly in some of the following suggestions, but I know that the following things can help you know how to afford twins, triplets, and more. (Disclosure: Affiliate links are used below.)
Say No (more) to Debt
It is so super tempting to splurge on all sorts of baby gear, decor, and supplies for your newest arrivals, but I hope that the other posts in this series will help you avoid doing that! Don’t go into debt (more than absolutely necessary) for your kids.
If you currently have debt (which we did when we found out we were expecting twins), work hard to get rid of it. There are numerous financial experts and advisers out there who can work with you to aggressively pay off your debt. Dave Ramsey is supposed to be the man when it comes to this.
My best advice to getting out of debt, is to stop charging on your credit cards! You won’t be able to get out of debt if you keep charging more debt on your cards. And debt is horrible and suffocating. I know firsthand. And it’s part of the reason I wanted to put this series together. I wish we would’ve done things different when we were planning for our twins’ arrival. But, the good news is, thanks to an unfortunate car accident and tax return money, we’ve been able to get rid of all of our revolving debt (thousands of dollars of credit card debt and two cars). Tax refund money is a great way to pay down debt quickly by the way!
This is my weak point. The furthest I get in budgeting is usually knowing exactly where all my money goes (I check our statements religiously), but not how much should go to fluctuating expenses like gas, groceries, clothes, and entertainment and then sticking to them. However, it is very beneficial if you have never done so to categorize your expenses. How much are you paying on eating out? On clothing? At the pump? At the grocery store? On utilities? It can be very eye opening.
Mint.com is a great website to use to really break down and organize your monthly expenses. Mint.com securely connects with your bank accounts, credit cards, auto loans, and student loans, allowing you see exactly where you sit financially (which can be depressing, fair warning). It also allows you to make custom categories, separate transactions into different categories, and more. And it does it all in a very visually pleasing and easy to use and see way. A lot of banks have similar online banking budgeting tools as well.
Once you see where your money is going, try to establish limits (the hard part!) to certain spending categories. Some prefer to do this with a cash envelope system – Literally put cash into envelopes marked by categories (clothes, food, gas, eating out, entertainment, etc) and only spend what is in there. If you run out, then you can’t spend anymore until the next month (or pay period) begins. I still have yet to do this, but it sounds like a great budgeting method. I just never have cash or get cash from the bank.
It won’t matter how much you save on clothes, diapers, and food if you are suddenly hit with disaster. If you don’t have health, car, life, house or renters insurance, then get them now! And shop around. Get the best deal for your buck.
This one is super hard when you don’t have much money coming in, but is very important. Try to have at least $1000 in a savings account for emergencies, like when your car needs an unexpected repair, someone gets sick, or an appliance breaks. That way you don’t need to resort to your credit cards. After that initial $1000, think about making some more long-term savings, savings enough to cover all your expenses for 3 months in case of a financial emergency, like losing your job. How you save will be left up to you and some professionals.
Other savings you should have in place is your retirement, especially your 401(k). Fully fund them, with matching employer contributions. The tax-free money and interest put in them will pay off way quicker than any other savings method out there. And don’t use it until you actually retire!
And lastly, think about saving for your children’s future. There are several ways of saving, some specific to college expenses and some just for when they turn 18 or graduate high school. Upromise.com offers cash back for online purchases, restaurant tabs, and more. The money you accumulate in your account can be put towards a high-yield savings account, or a 529 College Savings Plan (among other pay-out options). 529 Plans, Kids Savings accounts, or other investment accounts are all great options, no matter how you decide to fund them!
One of the best ways to save, when you don’t have a lot to save, is to put aside any extra “income” you make, so I really like the Upromise.com program. I’ve even heard of people who figure out how much they save with coupons, and then move that money over to a savings account of some kind! Others put all birthday or holiday money into savings. Saving money doesn’t have to be overwhelming or make it hard to live now. But, preparing for your own future and your child’s future will mean more options and stability later.
Get a Great Bank
After we moved to Indianapolis, we found ourselves without a local branch of the bank we had been using. So, it was time to start shopping around. I looked at many different national banks, but also many local credit unions. And I have fallen in love with credit unions, ours specifically. We get a killer interest rate on our savings account (2%), checking account, and more. I follow my credit union on Facebook and Twitter where they often offer special promotions. I’ve scored several of them – from a 6 month Certificate of Deposit(CD) with 2.14% interest (a Valentine’s Day special), to $25 for tweeting about how I’m prepared financially, and $5 just for using an online budget calculator. The people are awesome to work with, giving financial advice, hosting Dave Ramsay Courses, and even customer appreciation days where there is free music, food, and more.
The great thing about a great bank is that they will help you save and earn money without having to think about saving. Make sure you shop around for a great bank, otherwise your savings and investments won’t be working for your favor like they should.
This always seem counter-intuitive, but make sure you give money away, whether to a charity organization, a stranger (I’ve been the recipient of stranger’s good will before), or churches. I regularly pay a 10% tithing to my church, even though I make very little, and even when money is extra tight that month. And I’ve been blessed for it. It is always amazing how giving away money actually correlates to more financial security. Plus, it’s good to give! (Don’t be a Scrooge!)
And that’s my advice! How did you get your finances in order before/after your twins were born? What are you great at? What are you not so great at?
ldskatelyn is the mastermind behind this week’s money-saving series “How to Afford Twins.” She knows firsthand what it feels like to be part of a low-income family. But, she’s risen to the challenge time and again. She loves the thrill of paying off debt, saving money, scoring great deals, and bringing in some extra money. She blogs about parenting, family, and more at What’s up Fagans?