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3 budget changes every new parent should make

What we'll cover

  • Top budget adjustments for new parents

  • Tips to stay financially agile with kids

  • How to make the most of your budget

Welcome to parenthood. You know you have a lot of changes ahead of you, especially new experiences and expenses. Use these small budgeting adjustments to set yourself up for success as you face the many adventures ahead.

1. Actually build a budget

Previously, you may have casually kept an eye on your spending. Those days are over. Grab your notebook, create a digital spreadsheet or use one of our free budgeting templates and get ready to track your expenses. Your future self will thank you for it.

If you're new to budgeting, you may want to start simple with the 50/30/20 approach. This strategy allocates 50 percent of your monthly income for needs (housing, groceries, utilities), 30 percent for wants (takeout, concert tickets, streaming services) and 20 percent for saving and paying off debts.

If it doesn't sound like the right fit, that's OK. Try another budgeting style on for size. You can even mix and match — just make sure you stick with it.

Use these small budgeting adjustments to set yourself up for success as you face the many adventures ahead.

2. Upgrade your emergency fund

The usual advice for emergency funds is to set aside enough to cover at least three to six months of your essential expenses: rent, utilities, food and transit. Now that your family has grown, so has that amount.

That means thinking through those new essentials — childcare, school supplies, healthcare — that are part of your new normal. Find your new number with our emergency fund calculator.

3. Expand your outlook

One reality of parenthood is you can't plan for everything, but for the sake of your own wellbeing, you should try to be as prepared as possible. Your financial outlook may have previously included the next five years. Now that you're a parent, it's time to look further.

Think through what those milestones are on the horizon — 10 years from now, 20 years down the road. There's no right or wrong answer here. For some families, it might be buying a house and saving for your kid's college education . Your outlook should be based on your personal goals.

Once you've determined what that road looks like (at least for now), it's time to begin mapping what you need to get there. Start small with financial tools that can help grow your savings. Savings buckets , a feature of an Ally Bank Savings Account, can help you automatically put money aside each month for things like a college fund or a down payment on a home.

Will your roadmap change? Yes, but by keeping the big picture top of mind and making these budgeting shifts, you can ensure your finances are ready for whatever the future holds.

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