Entering the financial maze of family finance is a lot like the game of Life, but this is no board game! And for LGBTQ families, there are even more moving parts and nuances. Here are some things to consider to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be to navigate the expenses of family life.

1. Protect yourself and your family legally

Before you dive into the numbers, make sure you’ve sorted out your legal details. LGBTQ families, even more than others, need to establish very clear legal ties and rights to their children. Sometimes this means second-parent adoptions or confirming parental rights through other legal means, especially in states with complex laws on the topic.

It’s helpful to work with a family law attorney who specializes in LGBTQ family issues. They work with families like yours every day, and they’ll know all the ins and outs that pertain to you and will make sure you’re protected.

2. Embrace the budgeting

Kids are adorable and… crazy expensive. From the moment you start planning to expand your family, setting up a detailed and realistic budget is your best defense against being blindsided by unexpected costs. You’ll want to factor in money for conception or adoption, medical expenses, and the gazillion (at last count, but it could be more by now) things a baby needs. Remember to also plan for ongoing costs like daycare, school, and healthcare.

There are some budgeting apps specifically designed for family planning, and they can help you keep track of your expenses and save for big-ticket items (like that first birthday party, which just has to be epic!).

3. Employer benefits bonanza

Many employers offer benefits that can be huge financial boons for LGBTQ families. These might include health insurance that covers fertility treatments, adoption assistance, parental leave, and even legal services. 

Tip: Schedule a chat with your HR department to fully understand the scope of what’s available. You might be pleasantly surprised by the support your company offers!

4. Boost your insurance

Life and disability insurance are even more important when you have a family depending on you. Make sure your coverage is enough to support your family’s needs in case of any unplanned events. Reassess your health insurance, too, to confirm that it covers your growing family’s medical needs.

5. Education fund savings account

It’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s education. College might seem a million diaper changes away, but setting up a 529 savings plan can give you a head start on managing those future educational expenses. Plus, it comes with tax benefits that can help you grow your savings more efficiently.

You can get some extra help with this fund by asking family and friends to contribute to it instead of regular gifts for birthdays and holidays.

6. In case of emergency…

Life can definitely throw some curveballs when you’re least expecting them, and an emergency fund is the best way to hit ‘em. Try to save at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. This fund will be a lifesaver if you run into unexpected events like a medical emergency or a layoff.

Start small if you have to, but start. Even a very small amount set aside each month can grow into a useful financial cushion over time.

7. Think about your long-term financial goals

Think about your family’s needs and wants further down the road. Do you want to buy a bigger house? Take the family to Disneyland? Retire before you’re 80? Setting these goals and planning for them financially can make them much easier to reach than it might seem right now.

8. Stay on top of updates

Financial planning is not a one-time deal. It’s an ongoing process that you have to keep adjusting as laws change and your family’s needs grow. Stay informed about financial products and legal changes that can have an impact on your family.