By JULIE MINDA
For most parents, preparing for a baby's arrival involves attending childbirth classes, reading about infant care, getting the nursery ready and stocking up on supplies and baby gear.
But the expense of child rearing continues for decades after the toddler is out of diapers. And a young family's ability to successfully manage its finances during the years when budgets are stretched factors into the well-being and future opportunities for all its members. To help expectant and new parents get a handle on their short-, intermediate- and long-term financial situation and goals, St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children in Evansville, Ind., has partnered with the University of Evansville to offer a free financial preparedness class.
Connor Donnelly teaches a financial preparedness course for new and soon-to-be parents at St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children in Evansville, Ind. Donnelly was a graduate student in finance at the University of Evansville, when he taught the class. He has since graduated.
St. Mary's offers the two-hour class three times in the fall and three times in the spring. The next one is Dec. 1. The session covers household budgeting, taxes and insurance and resources available to people in financial need. Yasser Alhenawi, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Evansville, teaches the course, usually with the assistance of a graduate student. Topics include expenses to expect in the first few months of a baby's life, the costs of infant and toddler day care and strategies for saving for college on a tight budget.
Terry Cooper is a St. Mary's nurse and personal birth consultant who helps coordinate the class. She said the course came about after Alhenawi's wife gave birth at St. Mary's about two and a half years ago. Alhenawi had researched the cost of raising a child and thought that type of information would be valuable to other new parents. He contacted St. Mary's to pitch the idea of a class. The hospital has been offering the course for about a year.
Cooper said each session generally draws about five couples. Some are considering having a baby, some are expectant parents, some are brand new parents, some have small children, and some are childless and just want to become educated about finances.
Jennifer Head, who runs a rural wellness center, and her spouse Stephen Head, who is a farmer, took part in the class in April. They are considering adopting. She said the information presented in the course was helpful to her and her husband, because "there is a lot to think about" when it comes to family budgeting and planning ahead.
Justina Drury delivered twin boys on Oct. 16. She said she and her spouse found the April financial preparedness session worthwhile. "Getting educated on taxes and what you can claim and the different ways of doing so was very helpful," Drury said. "I also believe that knowing how to be prepared for the future was fantastic as well. Since sitting in on this class, I feel 80 percent better about what we are fixing to face together as a family."
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