How can something so small cause such a major upheaval in your life?

A part of this upheaval is financial. The government of Manitoba estimates that the average middle-income family will spend about $160,000 raising a child until age 18. And that does not include university costs.

But just as you find the extra time and energy you will need to take care of the little bundle of consuming joy, you will find ways to work it out financially.

Planning for Parenthood

Brace yourself. You will be expected to buy things you never even thought of. Start planning financially for having a baby as soon as you can — even before conception if possible.

Set aside as much as you can every month in a savings account. Think of all the first time purchases you'll need to make, and don't forget to save some money for your maternity or paternity leave. Although the Canadian government does provide maternity leave benefits for a one year period, this may be significantly less than you are used to earning.

How much do you need? As much as you can save. Any funds left over make a great starter for a college fund. If you've amassed a considerable amount well before the due date, you can invest in a short-term GIC or other insured investment. But don't tie up your entire fund in investments. Babies will not sign contracts and they have not agreed to your schedule.

Have a brainstorming session with an experienced parent to figure out all the things you need to purchase before the delivery. It will be extremely helpful to have most of what you need before the baby is born. Your spare shopping time after birth is reduced drastically. If you need to shop after the baby is born, try shopping online. Nobody on the Internet cares how loud your baby is crying, what you are wearing or what time it is when your baby gives you a free moment to shop.

Here's a starter list for your brainstorming session. This is far from a complete list, but it will help get you thinking.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Most companies don't provide paid maternity leave — and don't have to. For couples considering starting, or adding to, their families, the length of time they'll be granted for maternity leave plays an important role.

Canada compares well to other first-world countries in this regard, with its one-year maternity leave policy. Specifically, the Canada Labour Code provides for up to 17 weeks of maternity leave. In addition, an employee who assumes care of a newborn or newly adopted child is entitled to parental leave of up to 37 weeks. However, the total duration of the maternity/parental leaves must not exceed 52 weeks.

Some important facts about maternity and paternity leave include:

Plan monetarily for maternity and paternity leave, as in most cases, it is unpaid. You may be able to save up sick time and vacation time to continue receiving income for several weeks. But most likely, you will lose some income during this time.

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