Having a baby can be a very expensive venture. A 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says raising a child from birth through age 17 will cost a typical middle-income family a whopping $235,000. That is a lot of money so it is important to plan for your financial future, prepare for your new baby and protect your growing family. Here are some tips to get you and your family on the right track:

1. Purchase life insurance. You will need life insurance to protect your family. It is not as expensive as you think and you will get better rates when you’re young. Talk to your life insurance company about what amount of insurance you will need to protect your family.

2. Start planning for college. It may seems years away but you need to start college planning right away. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2011-12 school year was $8,244 for a public college and $28,500 for a private one,

3. Update your will. If you have a will you will need to update it and appoint a guardian for your child. If you do not gave a will now is the time to get one.

4. Prepare your baby budget. Babies are expensive, from diapers to child care you will need to look at how your baby will affect everyday expenses. Go to the store and price out diapers and other baby items, consider if you will be living on one income or paying for child care, this will help you figure out if you need to cut spending to afford your new baby.

5. Use a flexible spending account. If your employer offers a flexible spending account, you may be able to use it to pay up to $5,000 in child-care expenses a year. You can also use flexible spending account for health care costs. Money in a flexible spending account is exempt from income taxes.

While having a baby is expensive it is also exciting. It may also be a time when you are considering a housing change.

You have decided to sell. But before you put the sign in the yard there are some things you will want to make sure you have done. Time spent doing research and setting the right price will most likely yield you a better return in the end. A home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it.

Track your neighborhood values
Find out what homes similar to yours are selling for in your neighborhood so you will have a good idea what your home is worth.

Buyer or seller market
You need to judge whether it’s a sellers’ market or a buyers’ market in your neighborhood. Remember that all real estate is local. You will want to research things like interest rates, home inventory, job forecasts, and even time of year.

Research inventory
How many homes are for sale? If you live in a desirable neighborhood and there aren’t many homes for sale, you will have a clear edge here. However, if you see lots of homes on the market and they’re not selling very quickly, you might have to reduce the price you had in mind.

Know the average days on the market
Review the homes in your neighborhood and their days on market sometimes referred to as DOM. Look at trends for the past year and assess whether homes were appreciating or depreciating.

Monitor the job market
Is a big company relocating workers to your area? Or are they moving out and shutting the doors? The job market has a lot to do with the real estate market.

Attend nearby open houses
Observe how other properties are showing and compare them to your home. At an open house you can often feel the “mood” of potential buyers.

Get a professional opinion
A real estate professional will be able to help you gather all of the above information and come up with a CMA or comparable market analysis to determine the best price range for you home.

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