Just Had Your First Child? Do You Need To See A Financial Planner?

If you've recently welcomed your first child to the world, your life may now be overwhelmed with the many needs of an infant -- from round-the-clock feedings to frequent diaper changes or even long rides in the car to soothe a cranky newborn.

Read on to learn more about some of the financial arrangements you may need to make now that you're a parent, as well as how to find an adviser who can help you and your partner come to decisions without being pushy or trying to sell high-fee products.

What are some of the financial issues you'll need to decide now that you have a child?

Most new parents are well aware that children are life-changing and can be expensive -- but many may assume that these expenses go down after children grow and become more independent. However, in most cases, the price of diapers and daycare can pale next to the cost to insure your teen on his or her first car or send him or her off to college. This means that starting a savings plan now is imperative, as pushing the thought of additional savings off until your child-related expenses drop is likely to mean no savings at all. You may want to go ahead and open a 529 college savings plan for your child as soon as he or she has been assigned a Social Security number. Not only does starting early provide the contributed funds with more time for growth, having a 529 available can make it easy for grandparents and other generous relatives to make a contribution to your child's higher education fund without just handing over cash.

One major financial issue for new parents is succession planning. Although you never want to consider the fact that your child could grow up without one or both of you around, accidents do happen -- and having sufficient life insurance in place to support your child and surviving spouse (or to assist any guardians with child-related expenses after your death) can be the difference between a comfortable life and one spent struggling in poverty. A financial planner will be able to point you toward whole or term life insurance and help you decide between term lengths and coverage limits.

Another option you'll want to consider now that you're a parent is the possibility of reducing a dual-income household to a single-income one. Even if your child is healthy and developmentally normal, you or your spouse may at some point find that his or her physical or emotional needs require more time and attention than either of you is able to devote while working full-time outside the home. By carefully reviewing your budget and cutting costs where you're able, you'll be better equipped to downsize your expenses so that they can be covered by a single income if needed.

What type of adviser should you seek when deciding how to structure your household finances post-baby? 

When seeking advice, especially while still adjusting to the physical and emotional changes a newborn has brought to your household, you'll want to concentrate on fee-only planners -- this arrangement ensures that you are paying a fair price for the advice you get rather than being pushed toward financial products and investments by a "free" adviser who stands to gain commission from each product you choose. 

One of your best choices is a certified financial planner (CFP). Individuals who have achieved this certification have been extensively tested on a variety of financial subjects, from the tax implications of placing dividend stocks in a traditional IRA to the benefits and drawbacks of states' 529 college savings programs. CFPs are also required to abide by a stringent code of ethics. By choosing a fee-only CFP, you'll be able to get a big-picture view of your finances and advice tailored to your situation and needs rather than trying to cobble your own information together while in a sleep-deprived state -- or worse, being forced into high-fee investments by a bank- or brokerage-employed adviser who has directly benefited from the recommendations he or she made to you.