How come nobody talks about money
One income? We can't do that!
You may feel anxious about money – many men do when they have a baby. Suddenly you're looking at one income – when before the baby it took two incomes to have a place, food, a car and the other things you need!
Don’t panic. Part of this is about understanding the difference between what you need and what you want. Up to now, you might not have had to make that distinction. But your world is getting bigger – and your household income is getting smaller. That can feel freaky.
Baby Set Up Costs
There can be a lot of set-up with a baby: a cot, clothes, buggy, car seat. Many couples go all out on the ‘nesting’ thing and buy everything they think they will need. Another way to do this is to go easy and buy things as you need them. Otherwise, you will probably buy things you find you never use.
The things you do need don’t always have to be new. Most baby things don't wear out. Instead, babies grow out of them. Friends and other people often like to hand-on good baby gear. You will find good things at garage sales,op-shops or on-line. For instance, Plunket has a car seat hire service and you might decide there's no need to buy one of those. But reserve a car seat early so you can be assured you will have one when the time comes.
Remember, babies only need simple toys - and not many of them. What your baby really wants to play with – is you.
Money and your relationship …
Money is often a touchy subject and something we don't much talk about. But it helps if a couple is on the same page about money. You might think you know how she thinks about money, but if you haven't talked about it, you probably don’t.
If you both understand your financial situation – and you are able to talk about it without getting upset – you will be in a better position to make good decisions about how to spend the money you have.
Feeling comfortable with less money …
One good website on budgeting is this one on the left: Our Family Budget. Another is the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services, the link on the right. This one has an on-line spreadsheet so you can do your own budget. It also has a budget helpline.
Doing a budget, many people find there are things they buy that they think of as necessities – that they can do with out without missing them. Consider what you buy at the grocery store: food that is pre-prepared (and more expensive) or isn’t even food but are really snacks or lollies, or alcohol or magazines.
Doing a family budget doesn't mean having to go without all the things you are used to – but at least you will be aware of the decisions you make about spending
What guys have told us about how they spend less after the baby is born …
- “I don’t spend so much money on hobbies or doing up the car. The baby’s our new hobby.”
- “We don’t go out as much as we used to. You realise how expensive going out is.”
- “We use cloth nappies most of the time. It's saving us a couple of grand a year.”
- “We don’t feed the baby formula. Just feed the missus up!”
- “We didn’t buy everything straight off. We've got friend who bought baby stuff they never even used.”
- “People give you good, used baby stuff.”
- “We started living on one income before the baby was born – so we got used to that. Plus, we saved Monica’s paypacket, so we had extra money when she did stop working.”
- “We don’t spend nearly so much on alcohol. We both stopped drinking when she was pregnant.”
Firstly, there is PAID Maternal Leave.
PAID Leave is mostly about the mother. The bottom line is that most women who have worked for the same employer for more than 6 months will be eligible for some PAID leave from her job around the time the baby is born. If she has worked regularly for the same employer for more than 12 months, she is probably eligible for the maximum government allowance of 14 weeks PAID leave from her job.
Paid parental leave is not paid by the employer, but by government (through our taxes).
The maximum PAID Parental Leave weekly payment is $441.62 before tax.
The minimum PAID Parental Leave weekly payment for self-employed people is $127.50.
Your partner may also be entitled to an additional 52 weeks UNPAID Parental Leave, which means her employer must legally hold her job for her.
For you, the baby’s father …
If you have been with the same employer for more than six months – you are probably eligible for one week of UNPAID Leave. If you been with the same employer for 12 months or more, you are probably eligible for two weeks UNPAID Leave.
Legally, you are limited to taking UNPAID Parental Leave within the period 21 days before the baby’s due date to 21 days after the baby is born.
The reality is, you need to sort out your leave with your employer. Technically you have to do this in writing – three months before the baby’s due date. Employers attitudes towards UNPAID Parental Leave varies a lot. The law describes the minimum. You may be able to negotiate something different with your boss.
Transferring Parental Leave …
The mother of your child may be able to transfer some of her entitlements to her partner – this up to her.
When should a dad take UNPAID Parental Leave?
You'll probably want to be around right when the baby is born. But remember, family or friends often arrive and stay to help out. If you take time off then, you might find there is already lots of help around. It may be good to keep some of your UNPAID parental leave until things settle down and the helpers have gone.
Then again … you might have to be there to hold the gate closed to more visitors. Sometimes a new mother gets overwhelmed with all the people wanting to visit and she may need someone to tell the visitors: "No, she and the baby need to rest."
… is how the government acknowledges that the cost of living is higher for people with children.
Most New Zealand working parents with dependent children qualify for some form of tax assistance under Working for Families. This means the government will take less out of your pay packet each week once your baby is born (or give you money back after you file your tax return).
There is a table at the Family Tax Credit page of the Working for Families website that shows how much your household can earn and still qualify.
There is also an on-line calculator you can use that will give you an idea how much more your take-home pay will be, once you get registered for Working for Families.
You have to apply for Working for Families tax credits - the government won't know you have a child until you tell them. Click the image on the left to start the process or you can ring the IRD on 0800 227 773. They answer the phones 8am-8pm weekdays and on Saturday mornings.
… you don’t have to be on a welfare benefit to be eligible for an Accommodation Supplement. If you are working but not earning a lot, you may qualify for an Accommodation Supplement. This depends on how much rent, board, or mortgage you pay, your income (and cash on hand), what area you live in, and the number of people in your household.
From this link you can find the area you live in, match your area with your household income in the table to see if you qualify for an Accommodation Supplement.
WORKING FOR FAMILIES … CHILDCARE ASSISTANCE
… if you are working or studying and need to put your child into care, you may be eligible for a subsidy to help with the cost of child care. Even if you aren’t working, you may be eligible for a subsidy.
From this link you will see how much you can earn and still qualify for a child care subsidy – as well as the subsidy rates.