Becoming A Dad – The 4th Month and Money

After the first 12 weeks were over and fairly uneventful (other than our appointments and telling family), we were able to finally tell our friends!

This was a lot of fun to share with our core group of friends in Denver. Elizabeth also loved being able to call her best friends growing up in Wisconsin and sharing the news. While we decided not to do anything creative in terms of announcing it, however, we have a few ideas for photos throughout the pregnancy.

A few of the things that we really started to discuss were our techniques and approach that we wanted to take with the baby. One example, diaper approach. We’ve agreed that we want to try cloth diapers. Thank you technology for advancing cloth diapers from the days of the 1980’s! I’m planning a future post all about the decision process, our choices for brands and eventual details on how it goes after the baby is born.

We’ve also been able to start planning for a baby registry. This aspect of the pregnancy has certainly helped from my perspective to keep things real until Elizabeth starts showing.

The best steps at this point for me are to slowly begin transitioning my office and doing financial planning. I’ve opened a new savings account for Peanut that we’ll put money into, as well as any possible gifts. I am also planning to open an investment account for Peanut when s/he is born. Research and discussion into that regard is covered below! (If you have any tips, I’d gladly listen, please leave them in the comments!) In regards to my office as it currently exists, it will be replaced by the baby room.

We’ve already finished the closet, and we removed all the books, games, etc. from the existing bookshelf, which will stay put. Getting the already small library of baby books on the bookshelf, as well as hanging up the baby clothes we’ve received as gifts and hand-me-downs, has been a lot of fun.

Elizabeth has continued to have occasional bouts of empty-stomach nausea, but overall, those early pregnancy symptoms have gone away. One book that I’ve been reading – The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash – has been useful. It breaks out the pregnancy by month, details what the woman may be feeling physically and emotionally, and give suggestions about what the father can do.

The 4th month is about money predominately, which is quite appropriate. One of the main aspects is saving for college. This edition (the second) was published in 2001 and is already out of date for higher education estimates. It estimates that in 18 years (0r about 2019-2020 from publishing date) that a public education could cost $40,000 a year and private $80,000 a year. Thankfully, given the current average rates, this is likely far higher than it will be. The chart below, from the National Center of Education Sciences, shows the average costs of undergraduate education since 1980.

Total tuition, room and board rates charged for full-time undergraduate students in degree-granting institutions, by type and control of institution: Selected years, 1980–81 to 2010–11
Year and control of institution Constant 2009–10 dollars1 Current dollars
All institutions 4-year institutions 2-year institutions All institutions 4-year institutions 2-year institutions
All institutions
1980–81 $7,759 $8,756 $5,580 $3,101 $3,499 $2,230
1990–91 10,620 12,303 6,361 6,562 7,602 3,930
2000–01 13,393 15,996 6,766 10,820 12,922 5,466
2001–02 13,842 16,589 6,955 11,380 13,639 5,718
2002–03 14,298 17,185 7,441 12,014 14,439 6,252
2003–04 15,086 18,059 7,809 12,953 15,505 6,705
2004–05 15,595 18,666 8,022 13,793 16,510 7,095
2005–06 15,939 19,007 7,881 14,634 17,451 7,236
2006–07 16,438 19,611 7,926 15,483 18,471 7,466
2007–08 16,617 19,823 7,819 16,231 19,363 7,637
2008–09 17,257 20,606 8,318 17,092 20,409 8,238
2009–10 17,649 21,093 8,533 17,649 21,093 8,533
2010–11 18,133 21,657 8,734 18,497 22,092 8,909
Public institutions
1980–81 $5,938 $6,381 $5,072 $2,373 $2,550 $2,027
1990–91 7,699 8,485 5,612 4,757 5,243 3,467
2000–01 9,390 10,711 5,990 7,586 8,653 4,839
2001–02 9,757 11,185 6,249 8,022 9,196 5,137
2002–03 10,118 11,648 6,666 8,502 9,787 5,601
2003–04 10,769 12,432 7,002 9,247 10,674 6,012
2004–05 11,153 12,918 7,208 9,864 11,426 6,375
2005–06 11,386 13,188 7,071 10,454 12,108 6,492
2006–07 11,731 13,587 7,235 11,049 12,797 6,815
2007–08 11,848 13,748 7,141 11,573 13,429 6,975
2008–09 12,375 14,400 7,641 12,256 14,262 7,568
2009–10 12,804 15,014 7,703 12,804 15,014 7,703
2010–11 13,297 15,605 7,925 13,564 15,918 8,085
Private not-for-profit and for-profit institutions
1980–81 $13,686 $13,995 $10,766 $5,470 $5,594 $4,303
1990–91 20,894 21,423 15,055 12,910 13,237 9,302
2000–01 26,456 27,054 18,453 21,373 21,856 14,907
2001–02 27,261 27, 848 19,248 22,413 22,896 15,825
2002–03 22,778 28,310 21,129 23,340 23,787 17,753
2003–04 28,679 29,198 22,779 24,624 25,070 19,558
2004–05 29,189 29,690 22,949 25,817 26,260 20,297
2005–06 29,307 29,770 23,312 26,908 27,333 21,404
2006–07 30,194 30,703 21,535 28,439 28,919 20,284
2007–08 30,475 30,945 22,200 29,767 30,226 21,685
2008–09 31,102 31,576 22,946 30,804 31,273 22,726
2009–10 31,023 31,488 24,483 31,023 31,488 24,483
2010–11 31,395 31,975 23,401 32,026 32,617 23,871

While it’s unlikely that we’ll see educational tuition raise to the estimates from Brott and Ash, paying for college is still a very real concern. 18 years from now, when Peanut goes to school, tuition at a public university could very likely be $20,000 – $30,000 a year. Tuition isn’t the only concern. Standards are changing for what many jobs consider as basic requirements for hiring. It’s becoming more and more common to find basic requirements for a job to have a master’s degree. Taking into consideration the additional cost of a graduate degree, investing in your child’s future education is easily well over $100,000.

Now, it’s important to note that not every family will be able to invest and save for a future education. The goal is to keep that kid alive long enough to reach that point, and that alone is expensive! Personally, I will cut back on some disposable expenses in order to save a bit to invest. How, and where I make that investment is far from decided yet. The Expectant Father does a great job of outlining a few options for those investments, so it is a good place to start.

The last monetary aspect that I’ll talk about is budgeting. Financial responsibility is different for each individual, so I won’t attempt to preach, nor do I proclaim to know everything or know the correct way to budget. My intent is only to share what my personal approach is. Lately, I’ve been using Mint.com. Mint is free financial and budget tracking website. Think of it as Quicken on the web. I can access my account from my phone as well as computer to track my budgets and spending. There are some security hurdles to mentally get past using Mint however. You have to login to your various online accounts and grant Mint access to combine all the data in one place.

You don’t actually make payments or anything from Mint on credit card bills, mortgages, etc, but it does allow you to centralize the data. This has been useful in establishing basic budgets. I chose Mint because it was free and easy to get started. Whether I’ll continue with it in the long run is uncertain at this point.

Budget720dpi

In regards to budgeting, I’ve been analyzing our spending habits and categorizing them into realistic monthly spending. Our overall budget has about 20 smaller budgets that are broken out by category. Utilities, house spending, mortgage, groceries, dining out, entertainment, etc. I know we have some consistent monthly expenses, and Mint is great at estimating these based on your transactions from the previous 90 days. This has been very useful for me to establish preliminary budgets.

My ultimate goal in the next month is to establish a budget for pre-baby and post-baby. Expenses will be vastly different now and then, so I’m doing my best to estimate what to expect. It’s a daunting task and we are going to find a local financial adviser in the coming months for help in this regard (something The Expectant Father strongly suggests).

All of these things are responsibilities that I willingly and gladly take on while Elizabeth is busy growing Peanut. It’s aspects like this that keep me feeling in the moment and a part of the pregnancy. We’ll be moving onto the 5th month soon, and am watching the calendar quickly turn to June and the next amazing phase of our lives.

Next: The 5th Month, Is Baby Listening?

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