Budgeting | Life | Personal Finance | Relationships & Family | Article
Money Diaries: The First Week Of Fatherhood
by Sophia | 5 Feb 2020 | 8 mins read
We’re back with another round of money diaries!
Late last year, our marketing executive Tim brought great news to the office: His baby boy was finally born! And while that was a huge cause for celebration (congrats on fatherhood, Tim!), I was curious to know what a money diary would look like if it belonged to someone who just became a parent overnight.
And so I asked Tim to log down the week’s expenses when his wife went into labour to figure out how stark the difference is, financially speaking, pre- and post-baby.
Your total is huge.
Yeah, unfortunately, it’s quite a lot because of the baby.
This is the week your baby came! Congrats! How do you feel?
Obviously this is not your normal expenditure.
No, definitely not.
Do you know what’s your normal average amount?
I guess looking back at before the baby was here, as a household (just me and my wife) we don’t spend that much. Redmart every week is about $70; sometimes maybe twice a week I’ll buy lunch. The rest is mainly leftovers from dinner. My normal weekly expenditure minus travel would be between $100 to $150.
So this is a big difference.
Are you spending on other things for the baby right now?
No, we basically got everything already, like diapers and all that. For my baby, we have to go every day to the polyclinic to test for jaundice. That was every day; now it’s getting less.
But why so frequently?
It’s because my wife and baby have different blood types — so the risk for jaundice is quite high. What happened was that his jaundice was too high so he needed light therapy at the hospital. Every day we went to the polyclinic, we had to take a cab ride and pay for the tests.
|Monday||Taxi fare(s): $15|
|Wed||Taxi fare(s): $55.5|
|Thursday||Taxi fare(s): $35|
|Friday||Taxi fare(s): $25|
Oh, that’s why you went on Friday.
Yeah, so we were discharged on Thursday and they told us to just go by the polyclinic the next day to do a check, and we found out it was quite high. So we went to the KK Emergency Room.
How did you feel about that?
I was a little bit in shock, because I’m holding this baby who just arrived the day before, and now they’re saying I have to stay at the hospital for 24 hours with my baby. I wasn’t even ready.
We only had one night with the baby at home before he had to go back to the hospital.
What did they do?
They put him in a blue light tube, a UV light thing. He had to stay there all that time; it was quite sad and a little overwhelming. My wife couldn’t go because only one parent was allowed, so it was just me. I did take the opportunity to see what the nurses were doing to learn about changing diapers and feeding, and everything.
Now it’s less frequent.
Yeah, it’s only a one-time thing, thankfully. We stayed a total of 48 hours.
|Delivery fees: $1,296.71
Emergency room fee: $120
Baby formula: $28
Baby outfit: $9.50
Baby carrier: $79
Baby bottle: $6.97
That must have been really costly.
No, it was all paid by MediSave. We only had to pay the $120 emergency room fee.
His Child Development Account (CDA) hadn’t been activated yet at the time, which could have covered it. It’s kind of like baby MediSave. We got the first baby bonus in already though, so the CDA shouldn’t be that far along. In total we got $3,000 in baby bonus, and $3,000 in the CDA.
The money stays in there?
Yeah, it can’t be withdrawn, it’s just like MediSave.
Any medical costs will come out of the CDA.
Yeah it’s pretty handy. But it wasn’t activated yet.
When you guys were trying for a baby, were you already saving up for the cost?
We had a set budget in mind, yeah. We had to do IVF. Our first try with IVF was not successful, we made a budget for the second one which was cheaper — some procedures you don’t have to repeat again.
Only once the baby was confirmed we started saving more, which was a bit too late.
Was there a specific amount in mind by then?
There wasn’t, but even if we had one, it would have been ruined anyway.
What happened was that we actually had to go to KK a total of three times to deliver the baby. The first time at 35 weeks, my wife was having contractions, and we still had to sign up for the delivery package. We took the A1 ward, which required $2,600 cash upfront. No baby, but you still pay for everything.
A week later, the same thing happened, so we paid $2,600 again.
The third time, we went for the B ward, and the baby came, which cost $1,296.
The total was almost $6,000 in the end — that was a bit unexpected.
Regarding IVF, I always hear people talk about how expensive the procedure is.
That’s the thing, we saw that online as well, and we ended up budgeting 8k for it, and it turned out to be a lot less.
How much did IVF cost you guys?
It actually wasn’t that much. The first round was $800 plus, I’d say. The second round was fully MediSave, no payment at all, at KK Hospital.
I’ve heard figures go up to $15,000.
I think that’s what makes people hold back so much. But it’s really not that bad if you have enough in your MediSave. The government subsidises the procedure as well.
That’s good to know.
Yeah. Plus, it’s $80 every time for monthly checkups during the IVF process; But it’s still not that much.
So post-baby, what’s the biggest change in your life apart from, well, the baby?
The biggest change is basically… sleep. The feeding times too affect your daily routine. People always say they have to wake up in the middle of the night because of the baby, but in reality, you have to wake the baby up to feed him, because he needs to eat every three hours.
That’s very frequent.
Yeah, you literally have no choice but to wake up. And for me, personally, at first you don’t really have anything to… (he tries to find the words) like, you go to work, you save money, you want to buy a house, go on holiday… after you have accomplished those goals you are back to work.
But now it feels like I have a very long-term thing to set my money aside for.
Financially are you guys doing ok with the baby?
Yeah, we’re okay. The baby bonus does help. It’s not a gigantic amount, but everything helps.
There’s a lot of help out there, I’d say. Not financial, but the government helps — you pay a bit less at the polyclinic and stuff like that. Other than that, diapers and milk are manageable cost-wise too. It’s only when something unexpected happens that you need a buffer, that’s all.
You’ve also hired a helper!
Yeah, and it’s a big amount, but it really helps around the house. It’s not to take care of the baby, but to support us. If you put time into the baby, you don’t have time for the house, and vice versa. So you have to make a decision.
I was actually against getting a helper, but if you look at daycare, it comes up to about the same price. We don’t have a huge house, so having one extra person always around is a bit of an adjustment for me.
Do you have a set timeline for the helper?
I was thinking for two years, but my mindset might change down the road. It is a good feeling to have that safety if something happens.
So… Are you happy being a dad?
Yeah. It’s a very daunting thing at first. The first night I wanted to sleep with the light on, I had to check if he was still breathing. It’s daunting but it’s a nice feeling. There’s this little person looking up to you… and you want to be a person they’d want to look up to also. It’s a really special feeling. And even though it was a conscious decision going for IVF, it was never about the money. It’s about making this family complete.