I’ve learned more about life in the last 6 years than in the previous 28 combined. It was 6 years ago when I became a father, and I now have two incredible boys—Kieran and Connor—who’ve likely taught me more than I them. Parenting is a glorious challenge that tests every area of our lives—our marriage, family, and friendships, as well as our productivity, creativity and often times our mental stability! Financially, being a father is… expensive. And for those dads who have a tendency to evaluate financial expenditures as a “return on investment,” the return on investment in our children presents a confounding dilemma. After all, the expense is cold hard cash and the return is nebulous and may not be realized for decades.
In the end, we dads must relinquish our desire for tangible benefits of parenting and pour our life (and often
times, our money) into these little ones, unconditionally. It is through this sacrifice that we begin to realize that the real benefits of parenting have nothing to do with dollars and cents, but instead intangible blessings and unexplainable joy. And who wouldn’t trade that—dollars for lasting joy? Fathering, then, turns out to be an incredible investment after all!
Practically, here are four financial planning areas that every dad needs to address:
Will – Most of us dads think that we’re generally indestructible, but the truth is that the one thing we can be sure of in life is that we will eventually… die. That inevitability requires us to have a will. And especially for fathers of young children, the most important financial planning recommendation in your world is to acquire or update a will—most importantly, to stipulate who your children’s legal guardian will be in the case of your untimely demise.
Life Insurance – The one thing that many dislike almost as much as the thought of their own death is the notion of talking to a life insurance agent. But the truth remains that if we would be leaving behind a spouse and children who are at least partly reliant on our very existence for our portion of the household, we need some life insurance. The vast majority of us will ably fulfill our life insurance needs with TERM life insurance.
Education Planning – As dads, we’re not legally or ethically bound to pay for our children’s college education, but if that is something that we’ve pledged to do, we should save for it so that it doesn’t wipe us out once our kids start graduating from high school. Consider saving 50% of your expected college expenses in a 529 college investment savings plan.
Work/Life Balance – Dads tend to put a lot of weight into our role to “provide and protect” in our households, but if we’re to be honest, we’d acknowledge that we occasionally abdicate ourselves from other roles and duties in the household. Simply put, our kids grow up fast, and if we make them feel like our work is the most important thing in the world, they’ll quite naturally conclude that they aren’t. Adults understand the difference between the quality of time and the quantity—but for kids, it’s often just about the quantity!
I had an opportunity to share these same thoughts with viewers of WBAL-TV (NBC) in Baltimore yesterday – Father's Day. If you want to view the video simply click HERE or click the image!