A Nine-Month Plan for Getting Your Family's Finances in Order

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Eighth Month

Factor in friends' benevolence. Right now, some of your mom's friends are almost certainly crocheting yellow blankets in honor of your baby's arrival. Your pals are also busy organizing showers behind your back. People tend to be unbelievably generous when a child is born, so you may want to see what you receive before you buy any but the most basic baby goods.

You should also take a moment to open a safe-deposit box at your bank. Some people will undoubtedly send savings bonds to celebrate your baby's birth. You'll want to keep them -- and the birth certificate -- in a safe place. (By the way, Common Series EE bonds and inflation-protected Series I bonds are great because you can cash them in tax-free to pay for education expenses. But this provision works only if the bonds are in your name -- not your baby's.) Before you stash the goods in the vault, make a note of your bonds' vital statistics (series, denomination, issue date, and serial number). You can then track the earnings online using the Savings Bond Wizard at www.publicdebt.treas.gov.

Keep your eye on retirement too. With nursery walls to paint and breathing exercises to practice, your third trimester is not the obvious time to be saving for retirement. But the sad fact is that a majority of baby boomer women have less than $10,000 in retirement savings -- in part because many stop adding to their 401(k) plans when they scale back their careers to raise children, says Hayden. She advises women (or men) who plan to stop working, even for only a few months, to vow to continue budgeting money toward their retirement.

Moms (or dads) who stay out a year or more can pay into a special retirement plan known as a spousal IRA. The IRS allows a nonworking spouse to set aside up to $3,000 a year and to deduct the amount from the family's taxable income -- even if the spouse funds a 401(k) plan at work.

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