6 Tips to Financially Prepare for Your New Pregnancy

by Erica Starr 27. January 2015

Finances of Pregnancy

Your life will never be the same – and neither will your bank account. All the joys of parenthood that you are going to experience over the years unfortunately won’t come free. From the first day you find out that you’re expecting to the last payment you make towards college tuition, the dollars immediately start adding up

Whether or not your pregnancy was part of your grand life and/or financial plan, there are a few things you should start to think of to make sure you are as prepared as possible to bring your bundle of joy into the world.

Daycare - You'll be amazed at the cost

If you are able to have a family member or friend help take care of your little one while you are at work, consider yourself extremely lucky. According to the Maryland Family Network, the average cost of daycare in Maryland is $238 a week. That totals to $1031.33 a month and $12,376 a year. Compare that to the average cost of center-based daycare in the United States at $11,666 per year ($972 a month) (National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies) and you’re practically looking at a mortgage payment.

Health Insurance - What exactly is covered by your current plan?

Find out what health services you are covered for, ideally before or during pregnancy. Different health care plans are set up to cover different life events and preventative care services such as prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, sonograms etc. Once you find out that you are pregnant, finding out your health care options should be number one on your list. If you find that you need to adjust your plan, be sure that you also find out when your open enrollment period is as most plans will only allow for adjustments during that time. If you miss your window, you could be out of luck.

Maternity and/or Paternity Leave - Does your employer offer it?

Maternity leave and paternity leave is the time off work that parents typically take after the birth of a child. While maternity leave (for mothers) is more common, some employers are now offering paternity leave for fathers to have some time at home with their newborn child. While it’s common, not all employers offer this benefit to their employees and are under no requirement for this leave to be paid time off. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law which requires certain employers, including the State of Maryland, to grant job-protected leave to employees who meet FMLA’s eligibility requirements. The law entitles eligible employees to an absence of up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period. If your employer does not offer any type of paid maternity leave or short term disability, you may need to think about how you will cope with the decrease in income for those few weeks.

It's Time to Make a Will

Although no one likes to think about it, now that you are going to be a parent you need to start thinking about how your child will be cared for after you’re gone. Topics such as who will care for your child and what happens to your money and belongings if something unforeseen happens to you should be addressed in your will. If the unfortunate happens before you are able to set up your will, there is no telling what might happen to your money, house or child if there isn’t a spouse in the picture.

Update Your Beneficiary Information

Too often parents forget to update their beneficiary information when a child comes into the picture. While this may not seem like a big deal (especially if a spouse is listed as the current beneficiary), if something happens to you and your spouse, and your child is not listed as a beneficiary, all of your belongings, money, property and equity could be thrown into an estate. If an estate is required to be opened, your child may have to deal with any and all creditors, bill collectors or any other unpaid debt that you had accumulated.

Savings Plan / College Plan

Yep, we said it - college. Your baby hasn’t even seen the light of day yet and you already need to begin thinking about a starting a college savings plan. The state of Maryland offers several college savings plans including the Maryland Prepaid College Trust and the Maryland College Investment Plan. In addition to these plans, there are a variety of 529 plans and traditional savings plans that you can start investing in almost immediately.

While all of this may be overwhelming, having a baby is the most amazing thing that you’ll ever do in your life. While this list barely skims the surface on how your wallet feels about that, any parent will tell you over and over again, it’s worth every penny.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

The Importance of Reviewing Your Beneficiaries

4 Financial Mistakes Newlyweds Make

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

How to Prevent Your Teenager from Distracted Driving for Free - The Drive Safe Mode App

by Erica Starr 15. October 2014

Drive Safe Mode App

Every day, thousands of people are injured or lose their lives to distracted driving. According to the Maryland State Highway Administration Safety Information Database, 231 people lost their lives and 29,050 were injured in distracted driver-involved crashes in 2011 alone. Nationally, distracted driving is a factor in 1 out of 4 vehicle crashes and at any given daylight moment, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (NOPUS)

After seeing the above statistics, the question you should be asking yourself is could YOU or YOUR NEW YOUNG TENNAGE DRIVER be one of them? While the dangers of distracted driving are no secret, the best way to prevent these unsettling stats from increasing is communication and education. Do you talk to your teenagers about the risks of texting and driving? Of course you do…but wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for you to physically prevent your child from taking that call while behind the wheel?

Wait no longer parents.

We present to you... (insert triumphant trumpet music)

The Drive Safe Mode App.

While we’ll be the first ones to tell you that our Mobile Banking App allows you to bank from anywhere at any time, there is one place that we would rather you not…while driving. As a matter of fact, if we could figure out a way to shut down our mobile banking app while you were driving, we would. As it turns out, someone figured it out for us. 1st Mariner Bank has teamed up with FOX Baltimore to help fight the battle against distracted driving by helping to promote the Drive Safe Mode App that is available for both Androids and iPhones. This app was created by a parent concerned with his own addiction to distracted driving. This addiction not only included texting, but also emailing, checking Facebook, browsing the Internet, checking sports scores, playing games and using any and every application on his phone.

Some of the App's features include:

  • Prevents texting, banking, emailing and other distractions while driving.
  • Push alert warnings if shut off while driving.
  • Blocks phone usage within a few seconds of vehicle moving.
  • Configurable to allow calling parents while driving.
  • Configurable to allow navigation apps while driving.
  • Configurable to allow music apps while driving.
  • Ability to deliver speed alerts for your vehicle.
  • Proactive alerting and reporting if user tries to disable.

While the App is is available for both Android and iPhone devices, the features and functionality vary slightly for each operating system. Click here to see a features comparison.

So how does the Drive Safe Mode App actually work? (Hint: You're gonna love this.)

Once a certain MPH is reached, essentially all functions of the phone are disabled except the ability to call 911 and/or any preset emergency phone numbers set up by the account holder (i.e Mom & Dad).

Here is a demo of the Drive Safe Mofe App in action on an iPhone.

What if my child tries to use his or her phone or delete the app? (Hint: Mom will know everything.)

In any instance that one attempts to use any non-emergency functionality of his or her phone or deactivate or delete the app, the account holder will receive a notification via text or email.

Ready to take action?

Download the Drive Safe Mode App on your teenager's phone today.

Want more info?

To see additional FAQs or get more info, check out the Drive Safe Mode site here.

10 Affordable Ways to Survive the Polar Vortex

by Erica Starr 29. January 2014

Baltimore Snow

Welcome to Baltimore folks! The home of the blue crab, Old Bay, Berger cookies and the most recent addition to its resume’, the co-host of the 2014 Polar Vortex. According to the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore has racked up the most single digit temperature lows for the month of January since 1982. While that heart-warming statistic may not make you all warm and fuzzy inside, these money saving tips just might do the trick AND teach you a thing or two on how to save money at the same time.

Money Saving Tips to Survive Baltimore's Polar Votex:

1) 86 the Jewelry

As soon as the frigid air hits the metal of your latest and greatest accessories, they start absorbing the temperature. Fast forward a few moments and you now have a pair of ice cubes hanging from your ears instead of the dangly earring you thought you put on in the morning.

2) Bake Cookies

Bake anything for that matter. 375 degrees is pretty darn warm, so after you’ve taken your batch of mouthwatering chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, turn it off (write that down…turn it off) and leave the door open while it cools down. Heck, just using your oven often heats up your kitchen, so why not kill two birds with one stone – food and heat; multitasking at its finest.

3) Reverse, Reverse

While you may typically use your ceiling fans to cool down, running your fan on low in reverse actually pushes any warm air in the room down to your living area. Yes, running the fan in any capacity can increase your electric bill but because you are keeping it on low, the impact to your monthly bill will be minimal, if any.

4) Uncover Vents

This may seem like common sense, but when you are pressed for space in your living area (i.e. a Canton rowhome), a lot of times we forget about the vents that we covered up when we bought that new couch. Just do a quick walk-through of your house and make sure that nothing (furniture, towels, boxes, and pets) is covering up your vents, preventing the hot air from circulating properly. If your vents are covered, your furnace is working double (and charging double) to heat an area that will never be adequately heated.

5) Hot Beverages are Your Friend

Whether it’s coffee, tea, hot chocolate or your grandmother’s famous hot tottie, cozying up with a warm drink can help keep even the coldest of January days more bearable.

6) Dodge the Drafts

Putting Door Draft Dodgers™ against the bottom of your outside doors and windows may prove to be the best Polar Vortex $10.00 you’ll ever spend. These extremely affordable, genius inventions will not only help keep the cold air out, but you’ll also be saving on your monthly energy bills as your heating units won’t have to work as hard.

7) Who Doesn't Love Fuzzy Socks?

And here you thought you’d never get any use out of the fuzzy socks that you got for Christmas all those years. After you call your Mom and thank her, break out a pair or two of your favorite wool or fuzzy socks. Again – two birds with one stone – bonus points with the Mom AND warm feet – the multitasking continues.

8) Change Your Furnice Filters

When is the last time you changed the filters in your furnace? If you can’t remember, chances are it’s time to change them. Even if you can remember, it can’t hurt to check them and make sure they are clean and working effectively. Changing or cleaning your filters regularly will also help you increase the efficiency and life expectancy of your furnace while helping you cut energy costs.

9) Teach Me How to Snuggie

Yep – we said it. Don’t lie, you know you have, or at least want, a Snuggie®. Worst case scenario, put your robe on backwards, it’s really the same thing AND costs you ZERO dollars.

10) Cuddle up with Your 4-Legged Friend

Nothing is more heart-warming than sitting down on the couch and cuddling up with your 4-legged K9 or feline friend after a cold, blustery day. Trust me; if nothing else, it will put a smile on your face.

So there you have it: the official Baltimore Polar Vortex Survival Guide. We fully expect all of you to go home, take off your jewelry, break out the Snuggie® (equipped with fuzzy socks) and cuddle up on the couch with your favorite K9 or feline while eating chocolate chip cookies and enjoying a giant cup of tea. What more affordable way can you think of to stay warm, save money and eat chocolate chip cookies? Again with the multitasking…it’s like you’re a multitasking, money saving Czar or something.

Stay warm out there, Baltimore!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

The Best Things to Buy in the Winter

Spring Forward with These 5 Energy Saving Tips

How to Stay Cool when Temperatures are Hot

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