Financial changes are a fact of life. Changes occur at every turn, including when students leave home for the first time, people get married and when families purchase their first home. One of the biggest financial changes occurs when starting a family.

Starting a family can come with a measure of sticker shock, particularly for young couples without much financial history. Since the 1960s, the costs associated with raising a family have risen exponentially, says the financial resource MarketWatch. Between 2000 and 2010, costs rose by 40 percent.

Data from Money.com indicates that, as of 2015, American parents spent, on average, more than $230,000 on child costs from birth until the age of 17. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that today that number is closer to $245,000 per child, which does not include the cost of college. BabyCenter.com offers a cost comparison tool to help prospective parents get started on creating family budgets.

When mulling the cost of starting a family, prospective parents can ask themselves the following questions to get a handle on their finances.

Can I afford big-ticket baby items related to safety and comfort? Items may include a new vehicle with high crash-test ratings, or renovations to a home to provide a safe nursery. If renovations are unlikely, then would-be parents may need to consider the costs of moving.

  • Have I considered daily child expenses? Diapers, formula, laundry detergent, clothing for each stage of growth, and various other items are necessary when raising a child. Make a list of such items and their potential costs.
  • Do I have adequate health insurance? Pew Research states that expenses for a delivery can range from $3,000 to upward of $37,000 per child for a normal vaginal delivery, and from $8,000 to $70,000 if a C-section or special care is needed. Consider how much your health insurance will cover and how much adding a child to a policy will increase your rates.
  • Will I need daycare? In order to afford added expenses, both parents may have to work. BabyCenter.com states that a family’s average childcare costs are roughly $755 per month.
  • Can I afford life insurance? Once you begin a family it is important for both parents to have a life insurance policy in place to provide for surviving family members in the event of an untimely death. Couples who want to start a family can make the transition go smoothly by figuring out their finances before welcoming a

baby into the family.