Whether you are a new dad, know a new dad, or are about to be a dad, there’s no doubt about it: first time fathers have more to learn than just about any other time in their lives. The learning curve is steep, and the books and classes don’t quite cover everything. Sure, you’ll learn how to change a nappy on a doll, but nothing quite prepares you for the first time you have to handle a poo-nami solo. And people tell you you’ll be sleep deprived, but there’s nothing like feeling exhausted deep in your bones, then being energised by their tiny cry in the middle of the night.
Some of the most important lessons that get skipped over aren’t to do with how to dress the baby right for the weather, or how to empathise with the mother of your kid. Rather, they’re to do with practical stuff that strikes you when you least expect it. Yep, we’re talking about the financials.
You’ll probably spend more than you think
Chances are that when you were planning your family with your partner, you did some rough budgeting. Maybe you looked up prices for cots, strollers, nursery furniture, nappy bags, clothes, car seats, and nappies. If you were smart, you and your partner probably weighed up the costs and benefits of one or both of you taking time off, versus the cost of child care for your baby.
The thing is, there are always unexpected expenses. You’ll need to make a line item in your budget for, well, ‘misc. baby stuff’. For example, have you considered how much more you might spend on more convenient goods and services due to being time poor? For those who have the disposable income, things like a cleaning service or meal delivery every now and then can be pretty tempting. You might have resolved to dress your kid in hand-me-downs and practical outfits… until you saw that kick-arse tiny Batman costume they just had to have. And have you considered how your car insurance premiums might change, now that you’re toting a small human in your vehicle?
There are ways to sleep better at night…
Speaking of insurance: if you’ve never got the whole ‘peace of mind’ thing, you will soon. When it’s three in the morning, you’ve finally got your kid down to sleep, and you’re just staring in to their face thinking “holy fudge, this thing can’t do anything without me!”, your mind will eventually wander to what they’d do if you weren’t around. And that’s exactly what insurance is for.
When you’re single and don’t have any dependants, let’s be honest: it’s pretty easy to be dismissive about life insurance. Who would need the money if you were gone?! But as a new dad, you’ve now got someone who would need that cash to get by without you. Should the worst happen, an insurance payout may be able to pay for your family to keep their lifestyle, pay for their education, and more. That’s why it’s a good idea to scope out an insurance deal with affordable premiums, inclusions that are right for you, and enough coverage to take care of your kid in to the future.
Time is going to become more precious than ever
To put it simply, it’s normal to worry about not spending enough time with your kid. After all, working hard on your career means you can give them the resources they need. But you also want to be a good role model, and be personally fulfilled so you can be the best dad possible. The key to not feeling like this is a catch-22 is to give yourself options.
Think of it this way: if you needed to take a bit of a career break to look after your kid, or even just a couple of months off for an extended family holiday, would you be able to cover all your expenses? Are there any passions or pastimes that you’re missing out on that would make you a happier and healthier dad? How can you avoid being in a position where you’re so desperate for that overtime money, you end up missing important firsts in their life?
There are a few ways you can organise your finances so that you do have options. The simplest is to look at building and growing an emergency fund. Examine your budget to see where you could be saving money to lock away for a rainy day. Have a think about ways to generate passive income, or grow your current savings faster than inflation so you’re actually getting ahead in the long run.