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Jump start: Financial planning for expectant parents

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A newborn forever changes a couple, royal or otherwise.  But for those without a royal title better financial planning may be in order when baby makes three.

A little bundle of joy means a big shift in the way a couple spends, saves, and plans for the future. The most recent government figures find the average cost of raising a child from infancy through young adulthood in the U.S. adds up to about $235,000; that's not including college.

Those added expenses begin immediately, from the car seat parents need to take a child from the hospital, to the crib where baby will sleep.

The time to adjust a household budget is before baby's arrival, especially if one parent will be taking time away from work for child care.

Reassess insurance needs. In addition to having health coverage for pregnancy and delivery, make sure a little one is covered from birth for visits to the pediatrician and prescriptions.

New parents may also consider disability or life insurance policies, to keep a family financially secure in the event of something unexpected.  Estate planning is another must-do, a will or trust appointing a guardian in case of a tragedy.

You also want to start saving for college. The cost of college only keeps climbing.  Starting a tuition fund now puts money in the bank that can also earn interest. Consider asking family and friends who'd like to give gifts upon a little one's arrival to skip the teddy bears, and instead contribute to an account. 

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