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Dads: money, budgets and providing for your family

Many dads worry about becoming a provider for their family, especially if the family goes from two incomes to one, or if they’re out of work. During pregnancy, it’s a good idea to think ahead about money and budgets.

Being 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 down to one salary if things have been tight on two incomes. 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 a very expensive exercise, and 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 options that suit your budget and tastes, think about borrowing or hiring some equipment, or buy secondhand, when it’s safe to do this.

Your ‘help reflex’

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.

Negotiating help

Although most offers of help are well meant, sometimes you might feel that offers of financial help 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. It’s OK for you and your partner to set the ground rules. This might take some time, negotiation and compromise.

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.

Video

Financial management for families

8:15

In this video, financial expert Paul Clitheroe explains basic strategies to handle the financial burden of raising children. Parents talk about coping with changed financial circumstances. The video also includes tips on budgeting, planning, using the baby bonus, borrowing baby goods, prioritising needs over wants, and making sacrifices to keep income greater or equal to expenses.

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.

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Last updated or reviewed
09-08-2016

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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