PRACTICAL MONEY SKILLS: Financial advice for new fathers

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 02:40 PM.

Each year when Father's Day rolls around, I'm reminded that I wouldn't trade the experience of raising my two kids for the world. But when I think back to how naïve my wife and I once were about the costs of raising children, I can't help wishing we'd been better prepared.

If you're a new dad, or about to become one, you'd better sit down. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a typical middle-income family can expect to spend over $241,000 to raise a newborn child until age 18 – and that doesn't even include prenatal care or college costs.

Right now, you're probably more worried about getting enough sleep than funding your retirement. But at some point, you'll need to plot out a financial roadmap to ensure your family's future financial security. As one dad to another, here are a few strategies I've learned that can help:

Start saving ASAP. It's hard to save for the future when your present expenses are so daunting, but it's important to start making regular contributions to several savings vehicles, even if only a few dollars at a time:

  • Establish an emergency fund with enough cash to cover at least six months of living expenses. Start small by having $25 or $50 a month deducted from your paycheck and automatically deposited into a separate savings account.

  • Even if retirement is decades away, the sooner you start saving and compounding your interest, the faster your savings will grow. If your employer offers 401(k) matching contributions, contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match.

  • Once those two accounts are well established, open a 529 Qualified State Tuition Plan to start saving for your children's education.

If funding these accounts seems impossible, look for a few luxuries you could cut from your budget for six months – lattes, eating out, premium cable, etc. After six months, evaluate whether they were actual "needs" or simply "wants" you can live without.

Get insured. If your family depends on your income, you must be prepared for life's unexpected events, whether an accident, illness, unemployment or death. Get adequate coverage for:



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