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New Dads Give Their Best Money Hacks

June 13, 2018

Top financial lessons from fathers who got their budgeting in order after a new baby.

4 min read

Hello baby, goodbye money? It may seem that way when the cost of daycare, diapers, and detergent starts to add up.

More American dads are excited about fatherhood and are just as likely as moms to say that parenting is extremely important to their identity. If only someone gave dads (and moms!) a financial planning guide for how life with a new baby can change things.

Clothes, formula, baby food, and diapers—so many diapers—all add up, say these new dads who went from loose budgeting, if any budgeting at all, to keeping a tight rein on spending.

Check out these anecdotes and money lessons from these dads who fell in love with fatherhood (and learned how to budget while doing it).

Mike Watts, 41, Studio City, California

Before baby Madelynn was born, Mike Watts and his wife were taking full advantage of all New York City had to offer.

There were Broadway plays, baseball games, and expensive dinners out with friends.

“We obviously made sure we had enough for rent and the regular bills, but anything beyond that went right back out the door,” Watts said. “Having a baby changed everything.”

Big eye-opener? Daycare alone was $330 per week.

“We had to cut back significantly and make sure that all the money we had, went into making sure the baby was taken care of,” he says.

Once they had it figured out, along came baby Hudson. By that time, Madelynn was seven and they had moved across the country to California. And once again, they were faced with an onslaught of diapers and daycare expenses.

Watts sets up his paychecks so that a couple hundred dollars go directly into a savings account. “I can’t spend what I don’t see, right?” he says.

Watts also changed careers, leaving the media world to become a certified financial planner, which has helped not just his clients, but his own family.

“We continue to save for higher education for the kids,” he says.“It’s harder than you think, but we’re trying to become more diversified.”

Watts’ top money hack: “When I go to the grocery store, I refuse to use a shopping cart or basket, I only buy what I can carry,” he says. “It keeps me from buying items we really don’t need.”

Advice to new dads: “Set up a ‘baby savings account within your bank and just leave it there, even if you are months away from the baby actually arriving, Watts says. “While you don’t get a great return from a regular savings account, just starting the process can force you into re-thinking your budget and your spending priorities,” he says.

David Kiner, 34, Enfield, Connecticut

When David Kiner’s daughter was born six months ago, he and his wife put a serious hold on their dinners out and weekend getaways.

The money he and his wife, Gina, save goes directly toward their daughter’s care and supplies, with most of that, he joked, being spent at Target.

But staying home instead of painting the town is actually okay with him. “You’ll want to stay home to support the mother of your new baby,” he said. “Plus, more likely, you’ll be pretty tired.”

Kiner did, however, recently get a chance for his first night out with friends since his daughter was born. What began as a low key and low-cost night out at a local brewery nearly ended in (minor disaster) after he got pulled over for speeding.

His first thought was how he’d already blown his budget before he even got there.

“I could only laugh to myself as I thought, ‘Great, my first night out in quite a few months and it’s going to be an expensive one,’” he said. “Luckily, I was able to get away with only a warning.”

Kiner’s top money hack: Have your employer directly deposit a portion of your paycheck into an account that is not used to pay bills, Kiner says. One of their top financial priorities is saving for a bigger house, so they can expand their family.

Advice to new dads: “Prioritize your spending really fast–it’s not even an option–diapers are expensive,” Kiner says.

Travis Shock, 33 Pekin, Illinois

Before his son was born, Shock said his financial priorities consisted mostly of contributing to a 401(k) and, “how much golf I could get in during the summer without annoying my wife.”

Shock was in for a shock.

“Everyone tells you how expensive babies are,” Shock says. “We did not take it into true consideration.”

While Shock and his wife, Molly, entered into parenthood without a formal budget, they now keep track of weekly line items for everything from supplies to clothes to daycare.

Shock’s top money hack: To increase their savings they are “dropping a few things that are not necessary, such as our country club membership and cable.” That money is going into saving for a family trip to Panama Beach, Florida and making improvements to their house.

Advice to new dads: “Be ready and excited to give up certain things in your life,” he says. “It’s actually pretty easy to do.”

Welcoming a new little person into your life can be overwhelming in the best way possible, but it can also stress you out financially.

With good budgeting and financial planning—and these tips from other dads—you can spend less time worrying about your wallet and more time enjoying your new family.

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By Sarah Netter
Sarah Netter is a is a freelance contributor for Stash Learn, based in New Orleans. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News.

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