Do you have $233,000 to raise a child? That’s the latest cost to raise a child from birth to age 17 according to the USDA. While you may not need quite that much before starting a family, you should hit certain financial milestones before having kids.

Have a Steady Job and Income

Are you still trying to ‘find yourself’? Do you change jobs often? You’ll want stability when you have kids. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, wait until you’re happy where you work and see yourself doing it for the foreseeable future.

Not only is your job important for the income (hello $233,000), but also the benefits. Medical, dental, and vision insurance are just some of the benefits that amount to thousands of dollars saved over your child’s lifetime.

Do You Have an Emergency Fund?

Emergencies happen at the worst times. Triple that worry when you have kids. Broken arms, broken windows, car repairs, major appliance repairs, and medical emergencies all have funny timeframes. They happen when you least expect it. If you don’t have a stocked emergency fund, you won’t be able to handle these issues.

When you have kids, that panicked feeling gets so much worse. How will you take care of the emergency and provide for your family? Stock up an emergency fund with at least 3 to 6 months of expenses before having kids.

Do You Have Disposable Income?

If you’re just making ends meet right now, how will you afford the approximate $1,200 per month raising a child costs?

Get realistic when creating your budget. Even if you’re a frugal family, kids still cost a lot, especially when they’re newborns. Consider setting up a ‘new baby fund’ to pay for the extra expenses new babies incur including frequent medical appointments, baby gear, baby furniture, formula, and food.

Look beyond the baby years, though, as your kids grow up their expenses grow too.

Save for Yourself Too

Don’t put your own needs aside just because you have kids. They’ll be with you for 17 – 20 years, but then they move on. What happens to your future?

As you raise kids, save for yourself too – not only an emergency fund, but your retirement too. Covering your current expenses is important, but what future goals do you have? Will you travel the world, downsize your home, or buy a vacation home?

Know what you want aside from having kids. Find ways to save for both goals – raising a family and enjoying your golden years when your job raising kids is done.

While there’s no one telling you that you can’t have kids if you don’t have X amount of dollars, consider your situation. Look at the future. Consider the cost of raising a child today as well as saving for college. You may need as much as $100,000 or more just to send one child to college.

Look at your financial situation. Determine where you can make changes, cut costs, and most importantly, save for the future of yourself and your children before having kids.