3 big money questions from a new father

2024 has already been a crazy year, or maybe that’s just because I’ve spent most of it as a brand-new, first-time-ever Dad. Yes, parenthood is wonderful, watching my daughter grow and change is breathtaking, and I really, REALLY miss getting a full night of sleep. But this article isn’t about that.

Instead of talking about how amazing my daughter is (hint: she’s incredible!), I figured I would share my thoughts, concerns and questions I had and still have about fatherhood and the future.

I’m not expecting credit unions to have answers for all of my big money questions. This isn’t really an article chock full of suggestions or solutions, either. But it is a 30-something, new father’s perspective on his experience and a credit union’s missed opportunity, straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.

Let’s start with the obvious, elephant-sized question for most new parents…

How the heck was I going to afford this?

Admittedly, this is an ongoing concern, which will likely persist for at least the next 18 years. There are no simple answers to a question that size. But more specifically, I spent about 8 months wondering how we would afford the delivery, not to mention the rest of our daughter’s needs.

According to Forbes, the average cost of childbirth (before insurance) sits at nearly $19,000. But that’s before the numerous complications a major medical event might involve, and I would guess it doesn’t include a lot of the other, separate bills new parents will see. According to the bill we received, the hospital stay alone would have cost about three times that amount. 

Parents who are lucky enough to be insured will pay far less, but even then it adds up to quite the hefty expense. These big money questions are almost certainly on every new parent’s mind, and this could be a really impactful place for credit unions to enter the picture.

What about after we leave the hospital?

Maternity Leave policies in the United States are, by and large, laughable. Leave for the other parent is almost nonexistent. In our case, we suddenly discovered we were just short of qualifying for FMLA, and we were lucky that my wife’s employer helped us explore an alternative. I legitimately do not know if there were other options available. Either way, we weren’t exactly in the right headspace to go looking for them.

Again, this is a massive issue that I don’t really expect the average credit union to have an answer for. But then again, credit unions have always had the potential to be so much more than a financial institution. There aren’t many other organizations that have a credit union’s potential for community development. If there are nonprofits or other organizations that provide help to the community, a local CU could at minimum be a force that facilitates those connections.

What about other common expenses for new parents?

Like many new parents, we decided we needed to buy a new, safer car for our new baby – basically adding the stress of a large financial decision to our already sleep-deprived minds. Great idea, right?

Now obviously, car loans are the bread and butter of most credit unions. But when it was all said and done we… didn’t end up going to our credit union for that loan. Or I should clarify, we didn’t look beyond the rates posted on our CU’s website. Our credit union simply couldn’t compete with the rates we found elsewhere.

Which leads me into my overall point…

What can a credit union learn from this?

So I had three big money questions and talking to my (or any) credit union could have made a difference in my pre-fatherhood journey, but I didn’t end up asking my CU for help. So I shouldn’t be critiquing my credit union for my actions, right?

Well the big thing (you know, the reason I decided to write this article) is: In a lot of ways, I am among a credit union’s ideal field of membership. Young enough to stay with the credit union for decades, with some big expenses on the horizon that keep me up at night, and a family to pass the credit union legacy on to.

But it’s probably no surprise that people whose lives are changing rapidly usually don’t have the presence of mind to look for outside help. Maybe that’s why we’ve been targeted so much by other companies.

For example, a couple of months ago we spontaneously received some samples of baby formula in the mail. We certainly didn’t directly tell those companies we were expecting a baby, so I assume they bought a list or have an agreement with the doctors/hospital. The point is, they made an effort to find out we were going to be new parents, while my credit union, which I have been a member of my whole life, is likely oblivious to a major event in my life.

You don’t have to be a marketing guru to see the missed opportunity there.

Honestly, this experience has made me realize that my credit union probably hasn’t ever known what was going on in my life. If they did, they haven’t reached out to offer help.

And that’s fine, if they just want to be my bank. But if they want to be more, they’re really missing out.

Sam Dicken

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