Congratulations — you’re having a baby! Your head will be full of plans for medical check ups, baby names, cots and prams.
In the midst of all the excitement, there’s one issue many expectant parents overlook. If you’re taking leave from paid employment to be with your child, how will this affect your finances? Will you be able to afford your mortgage and other living expenses, or will you need to reshuffle the deckchairs?
All too often, parents leave these considerations until after the baby is born, their income is significantly lower and they’re struggling to meet their commitments.
That’s why, after you’ve called your family and friends to break the good news, it’s important to contact your lender, broker or financial adviser and put plans in place to ensure you can fund your new lifestyle.
If you have a mortgage and think your finances may be stretched, speak with your adviser about reducing your repayment amount. It’s particularly important to do this well ahead of your baby’s birth, because — regardless of whether you’re varying the terms of an existing loan or changing to a different one — lenders use a ‘snapshot’ approach when assessing your application.
This means you must present yourself and your finances in the best possible light — which is why the best time to apply is when you’re still earning the maximum possible income, not after the birth when your income has dropped substantially. The last thing you need on top of sleep deprivation and wet nappies is to be forced back to work early because of financial pressure!
There are several ways to reduce your repayment amount.
Extend your loan term. Let’s say you have 23 years left on a 30-year principal and interest loan of $300,000 at the standard variable rate of 5.9 per cent. Your minimum monthly repayment will be $1,989. By extending your loan term back to 30 years, the amount would drop to $1,779.
Change from principal and interest to interest only. Loans for owner occupiers are usually structured so that you pay off a small amount of principal alongside the interest. This helps reduce your loan balance faster than if paying interest alone. However, when your income drops after having a child, changing to interest only can ease the squeeze. Using the example above, the borrower’s new repayment would be $1,475 — a saving of a further $304 per month.
Renegotiate your interest rate. The home loan market is constantly changing so if you’ve had your loan for more than two years, there may be a better option out there. For example, many lenders will offer a discount of 0.7 per cent or more off the standard variable rate.
By extending their loan term, changing to to interest only and negotiating a discounted rate, our $300,000 borrower will pay $1,300 per month — freeing up a massive $689 to help meet expenses while their income is reduced.
Find your safety net. Make sure your loan includes a redraw facility. If your property has increased substantially in value since you bought it and/or you’ve made extra repayments, a redraw facility can help you access these funds. Alternatively, you may be able to establish a line of credit, enabling you to draw on some of your equity to fund living expenses if required.
By planning your property and loan commitments well ahead of time, you can stop worrying about your finances and concentrate on something far more important — your new son or daughter.
Post by: Joshua Mackow from Rate My Agent