Planning to foster a child is a big decision, but it can enrich both your life and the child’s if you decide to move forward with it. Part of the planning process is getting a license indicating you’re responsible enough to be a foster parent and preparing for the home visits that will inevitably come.
Once you’re caring for a foster child, you’re responsible for them, so the financial decisions you make during this time matter a great deal as well. Here, we have some financial tips for first-time foster parents who are ready to take the leap.
Budgeting is the first thing you’ll need to do when you decide to foster a child. Presumably, you have been budgeting anyway, but doubtless, you’ll need to change up your strategy a little bit with this new addition to the family.
First, estimate your earnings. Take your debts into account since you’ll need to keep working to pay those off. You might look into a debt avalanche calculator if you need a tool to help you figure out the optimal way to pay down any outstanding student loans, credit card bills, etc.
Then, think about the additional expenses that are about to become a part of your life once you have a foster child to consider. For instance, you’ll need to adjust your food budget. You may have to pay more for gas if you’re driving the child to and from school or extracurricular activities. Consider the costs of clothing, school supplies, and childcare too.
If you feel like the money you have coming in isn’t enough to support your lifestyle while you’re fostering the child, you might have to make some adjustments. Maybe that means saving money by dining out less often or reducing your number of streaming services.
2. Lost Wages
Whether you can continue with your job, as usual, will depend on the foster child’s age. If they’re old enough to go to school, you can probably work during those hours. If you’re fostering an infant, though, you or your spouse will need to be there for them.
If your spouse or partner spends time with your young foster child during the days, they probably can’t work. In this case, you’ll need to adjust your budget if you’re going from two income streams down to one. You can always look into hiring a babysitter as well, which will be another cost to consider.
Having an emergency fund is always helpful, but it becomes even more critical once you’re fostering a child. If you can, put money away every week that you can use in the future for emergency doctor bills or other child-related expenses. For instance, you might need that money if the child needs orthodontic work.
The unexpected can definitely happen at any time, but now you have one more individual in your family for whom you need to care. That emergency fund should always be ready to go, just in case.
Fostering is a Great Thing to Do
Fostering is a wonderful and socially responsible ambition, and you can make a real difference in a child’s life. Making monetary plans and sticking with them is always important but it’s critical leading up to and for as long as a foster child is a part of your life.
Try to save money in an emergency fund for any unforeseen events. Consider the wages you or your partner will lose if one of you needs to take time off to care for the child. Finally, make sure to budget as carefully as possible, leaving room for flexibility as you don’t know yet what the child will need.
If you keep your finances strictly in order while you’re fostering, it’s much more likely that both you and the child will have the best possible experience.