Dads: money, budgets and providing for your family

Dads: money, budgets and providing for your family

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Being a dad and a provider

Most dads want to be more than just the person who brings in the money. But it's normal to worry about whether you're a 'good enough' provider.

Part of this worry is often to do with going from two incomes to one. Another part could be general nerves about becoming a dad.

I did go through stages when I'd sit bolt upright certain nights and look at my partner and the bump in her tummy and go, 'Gosh - I've got to provide for these guys'.
- Roger, expectant dad (30 weeks)

Budgets and budgeting for baby

To your baby, the material stuff is much less important than being cuddled and loved by you.

But getting ready for baby can still be very expensive. Even the basic equipment and home preparations can put a dent in the household budget. If you're feeling the strain, you could look for other options, like borrowing or hiring some equipment, or buying second-hand when it's safe to do this.

You should only buy, borrow or accept second-hand baby equipment that has the mandatory Australian Standards label and safety features. It's also good to check the condition of an item physically before you buy or borrow.

Your 'help reflex' as a dad

Friends and family might offer to help out by buying some of the smaller things - for example, nappies - or even some big-ticket items - for example, a cot or pram.

Check your help reflex - how you feel and what you say when someone offers to help.

For example, when someone asks how you're going, do you instantly say, 'I'm fine'? Or if someone said, 'We'd like to buy a car seat for the baby', what would you say? 'We'll be right, thanks'?

Some dads see offers of help as intrusions on their territory as providers. Some might feel that people are judging them for not being able to handle things. But when people offer to help, they're not usually judging or trying to step on your toes. In fact, they'll probably be glad if you say exactly what brand of nappy that you want. You don't have to do it all when others are willing to lend a hand.

When you accept people's help, you not only take the pressure off yourself - you also have more time to be there for your partner and baby.

Negotiating offers of financial help

Although most offers of financial help are well meant, sometimes you might feel that they come with conditions or expectations.

If this sounds like your situation, you could start by deciding with your partner on exactly how and how often you're both happy for in-laws, family, friends and others to help out with money. It's OK for you and your partner to set the ground rules. This might take some time, negotiation and compromise.

It can help if you and your partner come up with a response beforehand, so that you're both prepared if an offer comes your way.

Money stress

Some men have money worries even before they find out they're having a baby. The pregnancy and baby's arrival can make things even harder. For example, you might be on a low wage, have lost your job, have gambling problems, or still be paying off a HECS debt or other debts.

Ongoing financial worries can be a burden that takes away from your peace of mind and ability to enjoy life.

Getting help with money issues
Becoming a dad can be the perfect time to make big changes to your life, including sorting out your money situation.

Getting help with your finances is a responsible thing to do. There's no shame in doing something to help yourself and your family move towards a better financial situation.

A financial counsellor might be able to explain options for dealing with bills and help you create a budget that works for you.

The Commonwealth Financial Counselling program offers free financial counselling to individuals, families and small business operators who are experiencing financial difficulty.

Centrelink offers free information and education to everybody through its Financial Information Service.

Working to a budget is a challenge, but the rewards are worth it. If you slip off budget, just commit to it again and get back on track. Try to learn from the slip rather than being hard on yourself or your partner.

Things to do

  • Discuss and agree with your partner before the baby is born about how and when you'll accept help, and from whom. Think about what you'll say when people offer help.
  • Learn about managing money and budgeting.
  • Look into Dad and Partner Pay and other government parenting payments.