They got what they wished for – times four!

By Drum Digital
23 November 2015

Meet Tracy and Jean. Keen to start a family as soon as they got married, the couple received the heart-breaking news that they couldn’t conceive naturally.

They embarked on a challenging seven-year fertility journey involving a number of rounds of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other methods to try to help Tracy fall pregnant.

Nothing, however, could have prepared them for what ultimately happened.

“We were about to adopt two little girls when a family member persuaded us to try IVF one more time,” Tracy says. “We were ecstatic that it worked – and the first scan showed twins! At eight weeks we went for our next scan. This was when our doctor broke the news: We were expecting two sets of identical twins!”

‘We saw four heartbeats on the screen in front of us . . . it was a life-changing moment’

Once the surprise and shock subsided the reality of raising four children started to sink in. Tracy and Jean knew they’d have to reconsider their lifestyle and responsibilities to ensure their children were properly provided for. Jean made the difficult decision to resign from his dream job and take on a new one that ensured better provision for the family, and Tracy decided it would be best to become a stay-at-home mom.

“We were excited about having a big family,” she says, “but at the same time we were very anxious about our finances since we now had only one source of income.

“Since bringing home our four little pink bundles the cost of raising them and the scale of the task at hand has felt overwhelming at times. In the early stages we easily went through a thousand nappies a month!

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“If we were asked to give our younger selves advice, it would be to enjoy life but to be wise with your money – keeping in mind that life doesn’t happen by the book. Surprises can be costly, even if they’re desirable! If you’re not prepared, stress and financial difficulties can negatively impact your family life.”

When you start a family it’s important to draw up a well-balanced financial plan that takes into account both your present and possible future circumstances. Karin Muller, head of Growth Market Solutions at Sanlam, offers a few tips on how to do this:

  • Managing your financial priorities may be challenging. You’ll need to create a balance between competing financial demands. For example, do you save for your children’s education or for your retirement? “Retirement should be your first priority, but saving for your child’s education should also happen according to a plan. Working with an adviser can help you balance these priorities,” Muller says.
  • Plan for your family’s future in the event that you should die unexpectedly or become disabled. Income protection, life insurance, critical illness and disability cover are especially important. Drawing up a will is also crucial and should include the appointment of guardians to look after your children should you die.
  • Your retirement savings need to be preserved at all times. Like Tracy, many women take a few years off work to raise a family and may be tempted to cash in their retirement savings to cover extra costs. But in such instances retirement savings should rather be transferred to a preservation fund. Your retirement investments need time in the market for compound interest to work its magic. You’ll never be able to catch up should you decide to re-enter the job market later, especially if you are in your forties or fifties.

To read more about Tracy and Jean go to www.sanlam.co.za

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