Thinking of Becoming a Parent on Your Own? These Are the Costs You Need To Prepare For

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Becoming a parent on your own can be a costly process. The average cost to adopt a child ranges from $0 to $50,000, according to U.S. News, or if you go the IVF route, expect to pay $12,000 to $17,000 per round, according to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. And once the child is here, you should be prepared for a whole other slew of expenses. To get a realistic picture of the cost of single parenthood, we spoke with Charlotte Cowan Geletka, CFP, managing partner at Silver Penny Financial Planning. Here’s what aspiring single moms-to-be need to know.

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What costs should single moms be prepared for when it comes to taking care of a child?

Not to scare people, but Fidelity studies this frequently and they say that the cost to raise a child from birth to adulthood can be close to $200,000. Now, that’s over the course of a lifetime, and that’s the average — people do it for a lot less, people do it for a lot more.

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The largest cost, especially when raising a child without a partner, is going to be child care. You have to look up the child care costs in your area because that is going to be a significant part of your costs. People say [you should budget] 30% for living expenses, but I would consider lowering your living costs a little bit to allow a little bit more room in your budget for child care costs.

Child care is the biggest [cost], hands down, but clothing a child is also expensive. There are so many great things you can do [to save money on kids’ clothing] now, like [buy from] Poshmark or consignment [shops] or Facebook Marketplace. You can find clothes and gently used things, and you can save a ton of money doing that.

How much should women be prepared to pay for child care?

I myself am a working mother of two children, and I wish I would have done more research. Some options are a day care facility, or going into a nanny share where several families will go in and split the cost of a nanny. An au pair is something that is a lot more affordable than people realize. I would definitely say, if you’re a single parent, look into the cost of getting an au pair. They live with you, but the cost is a lot more reasonable than you may think, especially when you spread it out over the cost of a year. If, let’s just say, a day care costs $2,000 a month and au pairs were running $16,000 to $18,000 a year, [the au pair costs less] and you get way more hours.

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What are some ways to lower living costs ahead of becoming a parent?

We’re in an environment right now where the cost of purchasing a home is very high. The percentage of housing costs as a percentage of your budget has gone up a lot, so I would say, if you’re a single person looking to bring a child into this world or to adopt, you might be rethinking your living situation. I could see how psychologically you would be like, “I need a bigger house,” but kids don’t take up that much space when they’re little. There are things you can do to lower your living expenses that will set you up for a stronger financial position, especially as you face the unknown. Maybe you live with family for a short time or I’ve even heard of some people having roommates.

How much money should a woman ideally have saved if she wants to become a parent on her own?

You need between three and six months [of living costs saved]. If you don’t have that, I don’t think you’re ready financially to have a child.

How can women boost their savings if they want to have a child but aren’t quite there yet?

The number one thing is to be aware of what you’re spending. Another thing is to automate [saving]. Go ahead and set it up so that as soon as your bills are paid, you set an automatic deduction from a banking account into a savings account. You need to automate your life as much as possible.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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