As a new dad, when the bub arrives the first two things you will need to spend money on are a decent meal (assuming you were present for the birth and so spun out you forgot to eat anything) and earplugs. Good earplugs are worth their weight in gold.
One of the first jobs of new parents is to let the world know of the new arrival, and what better way of doing so than by sending a photo from your phone to everyone in your contacts list. Unless you are on an appropriate phone plan, this could cost you a small fortune. Friends of ours found a $300 charge when the bill arrived after their first bub. They wisely didn’t attach a photo when their second baby arrived, but emailed one instead. (Yes, it was in the years before Facebook).
The paperwork that comes with a new life can be a bit daunting. You have to add the baby to your Medicare card, contact your private health insurer to add them to any private policy you have (as private health insurance for a couple costs the same as for a family this won’t be any extra but the insurer does need to know the baby has arrived), remember to get a medical certificate to keep the pay office at work happy, and register the new baby’s name (DON’T fill that form out when you are sleep deprived). So you’ll want to make sure that you have applied for the Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement or Paid Parental Leave weeks before the contractions are three minutes apart. Save yourself some time submitting paperwork with the Express Plus Centrelink App for iPhone and the Android version.
It’s a really good idea to test drive baby names before you make it official. One of the best tests is the Judicial Test – would your child sound like a dickhead with the words High Court Justice added to the front of it, like High Court Justice Rainbow Green, for instance. Hey, for a man whose name rhymes with Dick Gaggarty, this stuff’s important to me.
Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement
The Newborn Upfront Payment is a non-taxable lump sum amount of $560 per child. The Newborn Supplement is an ongoing non-taxable payment for up to 13 weeks. For your first child it’s a maximum of $1,679. and for second and subsequent babies it’s $560. If you’re eligible for the base rate or more of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A, you’ll receive the maximum rate of Newborn Supplement. If you’re eligible for less than the base rate of FTB Part A, you’ll receive a reduced rate of Newborn Supplement. And if you have multiple births you get a maximum of $1,679 for each baby even if you have other children. You need to meet eligibility requirements before you can receive either of these payments and it’s not possible to receive the Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement as well as Paid Parental Leave. The income test for the Family Tax Benefit is not straightforward and it changes every July. As with most Centrelink payments it’s all bloody confusing, so for details of the payments check out the Services Australia Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement page.
Paid Parental Leave
Paid Parental Leave is 18 weeks worth of the minimum wage ($740.60) for eligible working parents. Paid Parental Leave (PPL) is taxable at the recipient’s marginal rate. It is payable to the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child whose income was less than $150,000 in the previous financial year. You must be able to meet the work test in the 13 months prior and not work during the time of the Paid Parental Leave. Getting this government funded leave does not affect any existing paid or unpaid leave provided by your employer. This includes public servants who are entitled to take paid maternity leave provided by the government, then take Paid Parental Leave, also provided by the government. For the most up to date info on PPL, check out the Services Australia Parental Leave Pay page.
Since 2013, eligible dads and partners can get some dosh in the form of the federally funded paid paternity leave called Dad and Partner Pay. It’s two weeks leave at the minimum wage that can be taken anytime by dads and partners in the first year after birth or adoption and is also available to same sex couples. It does not affect any leave you may be entitled to through your work, but you must be on unpaid leave or not working to get it. The eligibility requirements are very similar to Paid Parental Leave and more details can be found on the Services Australia site.
The video below is not one of mine and therefore doesn’t come completely free and without obligation – I need to include the following statement, in their words:
Sourced from the Raising Children website, Australia’s trusted parenting website. For more parenting information, visit www.raisingchildren.net.au.
Don’t just take their word for it that they are a trusted website, I’ve seen a link or two to them from Choice and government websites and their pamphlet is included in the folder of material given to parents when they leave hospital with a newborn, so they’ve gotta be doing something right. This video was shot a few years ago, when the federal government paid the Baby Bonus (Paul Clitheroe refers to the Baby Bonus a few times, but doesn’t talk about Paid Parental Leave). You can substitute the bit where he refers to the Understanding Money website with the newer MoneySmart site that’s replaced it – yep, the same one that there are plenty of links to throughout this course.
Ignoring the environmental, convenience, washing and nappy rash issues, disposable nappies are cheaper than cloth nappies in the short term. Cold water-washed, line-dried cloth nappies will be significantly cheaper over the long run, but your costs will rise with the more electricity you use in laundering. This, of course, assumes that the cloth nappies you buy work for you. If your bub does regular poonamis (I think that’s a Japanese word that combines poos + tsunami) then those cloth nappies might start gathering dust real quick. To help avoid this situation, try My Green Nappy to find a place close by to hire a few different fits and brands before you decide to buy. Or you could save yourself even more money by having a crack at making your own cloth nappies.
Although they’re not nappies, breast pads also fall into the reusable/disposable category. If you need to use breast pads, in a financial sense, reusable is the only way to go.
The other big issue that receives plenty of debate is breastfeeding. As a man I am only allowed to comment on the financial aspect of this topic as my cracked, dry, bleeding nipples have rarely been bitten. Breast milk straight from the tap is the cheapest way to feed a baby, and bottles (and a breast pump) are the price a woman will gladly pay to get a good night’s sleep. A tin of formula might not cost too much, but a tin a week for 6+ months really adds up ($25 average tin x 26 weeks = $650).
Ah, boobs, aren’t they just the best? They look great and they’re frugal too.