Guest Blog by Rosanne Austin, founder of Maybe to Baby.
It’s no mystery that fertility treatment is often a budget crushing expense. (Goodbye vacations, adieu disposable income!) As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s an expense that comes at a time when you are likely feeling broken, defeated, and even desperate, after trying for months, or even years for a child of your own. This insidious, highly combustable combination of a high price tag and soul searing emotion can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t have your wits about you.
When starting on the fertility journey, most of us really haven’t considered in concrete terms exactly what we are willing to spend. Why? Because in some ways it’s like trying to answer the unanswerable. Seriously. “How much are you willing to spend in order to have a baby of your own in your arms?” Whose heart didn’t immediately shout, “a million, billion, trillion dollars!?”
Talking about money, particularly if you and your partner have “differing” philosophies can be as appealing as deep vein thrombosis, but it’s a conversation you need to have pronto!
Here are some considerations to get the ball rolling:
1) How Much Money Do We Really Have?
This question isn’t about what you think you make per year or what your gross salary is. What I’m asking is more bare bones, nitty-gritty than that. I want you to think about how much money, after taxes, basic living expenses, car payments, student loans, credit cards, insurance, and other monthly expenses do you really have? What do you have in savings, investments, or otherwise? Having a clear understanding of your true net worth and your liabilities will put “how much CAN I spend” into perspective real fast.
2) Do We Have a Written Monthly Budget?
You may already have a perfectly organized, down to the penny written monthly budget that would be the envy of any self respecting bean counter–if so, high five! BUT, if you are like my husband and I were when we started on this path, we scoffed at the idea of a written budget, deludedly thinking that we were so innately organized that the exercise of writing it all down was a waste of our precious time. How wrong we were.
When the roller coaster started rolling, it felt like we were shoveling cash out the window of our car at 70 miles an hour. Everyone’s hand was out! This is exactly why having a written monthly budget and knowing precisely where every dollar is going is essential. When you are dropping loads of cash on fertility treatment, have control of your monthly expenses! Plan where you can save extra cash to stock pile for your fertility treatment war chest.
Don’t have any idea where to begin with starting a written budget? Google it.
3) Do We Know EXACTLY How Much the Treatment Will Cost?
You must be certain that you know exactly what the treatment plan you have selected is going to cost. The sticker price from the doctor may not include medications and add on services. For example, if you have elected to do IVF, the cost of the procedure at the clinic may be X dollars, but:
- What is the cost of the injectables and medications you will need to order from a specialty pharmacy?
- How much will ICSI or assisted hatching add?
- How much will it cost to freeze any embryos you may have after the procedure?
- What about acupuncture or other alternative treatments to supplement efficacy?
There could be a myriad of other considerations, but the bottom line is you must know the bottom line. No scary surprises to sucker punch your pocketbook!
Keep in mind: this cost could possibly be multiplied several times over, if you need to repeat the procedure.
4) Does Our Insurance Offer Coverage For Any of Our Procedures?
You may actually be one of the lucky few that has health care coverage that will cover fertility procedures. If so, awesome! If you are like many of us in states like California, you are likely going to pay out of pocket. BUT, here is where you need to contact your health plan–they may cover at least some of the prescriptions needed for the treatment, such as pain killers, Clomid, and antibiotics required prior to the procedure. That may not feel like much, but when you are spending thousands, any little bit helps. Ask questions!
5) How Much Are We Willing to Spend or Afford?
Again, in theory we’d probably all be willing to spend an infinite amount of money to have a baby, BUT that is neither realistic, nor sensible, so when starting to answer this question, take a deep breath and for heaven’s sake be REAL.
To illustrate the point, let’s say that you make $75K per year and you are looking at doing IVF, which with drugs can cost roughly anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 (this is just an approximation–plug in your own numbers) depending on the state you live in and the protocol your doctor recommends. If you have additional specialized procedures like ICSI, assisted hatching, or are using donor eggs, the fees can be even more. Do you have the money to cover these costs today? What percentage of your income are you willing to spend? You may be great with your money and have a healthy nest egg upon which to draw, but how much of that are you willing to spend on treatment?
Now, I didn’t just ask how much you are willing to spend, but also how much you are willing to afford. Depending on where you are in your journey, you may not have all of the money you need or the luxury of time to wait to save it. There are more than a few companies who are in the business of financing fertility treatment and that may or may not be an option for you depending on your comfort level with acquiring debt. That necessitates the question, am I willing to go into debt to for fertility treatment? In answering that question, refer back to considerations #1 and #2. Can you really afford to go into debt?
How much are you willing to spend, when there are absolutely no guarantees you will end up with a baby in your arms? I suggest that you come up with a reasonable “finish line number” for yourselves–a number where you and your partner agree you will stop, because you could end up spending into oblivion! Don’t make other fantastic options like adoption out of reach because you didn’t have the foresight of an FLN!
6) Will We Have Money For Other Options?
As I touched on in consideration #5, if you don’t set a limit for fertility treatment, it could complicate or delay your foray into other options, if the treatment doesn’t turn out the way you hoped. Private adoptions can be expensive. Surrogacy can be astronomical. If you plan ahead and have your wits about you, planning for these options can be a breeze, but not doing so can detrimentally delay a change of course on the road to baby.
7) How Will Our Choices Effect Our Financial Plan When Our Baby Comes?
It makes me sad how many couples don’t think about how their spending on fertility treatment will effect their quality of life when their baby does come. Using the hypothetical $75K from consideration #5, how will having $150K in fertility treatment debt on top of your mortgage, credit card bills, car payments, and monthly living costs, effect your way of life? Seriously. If you are making ends meet, but don’t have a lot of leeway, what are you going to do when you have depleted your savings and have incurred a mountain of debt on top of that? Don’t be short sighted!
Being a good parent starts way before getting that positive pregnancy test. It starts with being financially healthy, so that you can not only feed your family, but enjoy those precious moments you have longed and prayed for. Having to take on a second job, or living in constant fear because you have no savings will rob you of that!
Bottom Line: Ask yourself these questions! Use common sense. If you need financial counseling, GET IT. Doing things the From Maybe To Baby way is all about defining your own journey and making choices that are right for you. Love on your relationship and future family by having a clear financial plan for your journey!
Rosanne Austin, creator of frommaybetobaby.com, is a fertility journey mentor who combines lessons learned on her own fertility journey, with Co-Active Coaching principles, and tactical skills honed during her 10 years as a “force of nature” trial attorney, to provide parenthood hopefuls with the tools they need to tame the fertility treatment beast. Featured as a guest and commentator on KCBS and KSRO radio in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rosanne empowers her clients with proven strategies to avoid heartbreaking pitfalls, safeguard their relationships, and prevent financial foolishness, all while creating a path to a luscious life they love. By popular demand, Rosanne will be producing a webinar series starting on July 2, 2014, and will launch a sanity saving, no stone unturned, online fertility journey boot camp. In the few hours when she’s not mentoring, writing, or speaking, Rosanne is a Paris loving, Downton Abbey crazed, food and wine fanatical, woman madly in love with her husband. Rosanne gives back by serving on the executive board for Verity, an organization committed to providing resources to survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking.