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Fatherhood and Finance: Lessons from a New Dad

Fatherhood and Finance: Lessons from a New Dad

August 26, 2021

Parenthood is a funny thing.  Regardless of how much you plan, visualize, and anticipate life with a newborn, nothing can truly prepare you for the experience of holding your child for the first time… or for the challenge of sleepless nights!  Many of you may know that my wife and I welcomed our son, Henry, back in June of 2020.  Yes, that was in fact during the throes of COVID (and yes, it was a wild time to have a baby!).  He is our first and only child to this point, and despite being the youngest member of our family, he has already reinforced several age-old, time-tested lessons.  Below are three lessons that have taken on even more meaning for me as a new dad.  I believe that these lessons hold true as we plan our financial life, too.

Never Underestimate the Power of Routines and the Impact of Habits

As most parents have experienced, sleep is pretty hard to come by in the days following a baby’s debut.  In our case, we simply buckled-up and did our best to power through during the first several weeks after our son was born (thank you, coffee).  However, we found that as he got a little older, we were able to begin instilling routines and habits, mostly around meals and naps.  Sticking to the routine was more difficult on some days than others.  When a scheduled naptime rolled around and our son was not ready to go down, he was quick to let us know (that’s when the crying volume would hit an “11” out of “10”).  However, sticking to our routine and building habits over time had a positive impact on all of us.  It helped everyone get more sleep and it has provided a blueprint for our days together.  Perhaps paradoxically, the routine is actually more liberating than it is restrictive thanks to all of the benefits that it provides.  It gives everyone more rest, a better attitude, and an ability to plan our days more confidently.  This parallels the routine of saving and investing.  At its core, building wealth is about taking a disciplined approach to your financial plan, even when it may be more appealing or convenient to deviate from the good habits you have built.

Roll with the Punches

We all know that life doesn’t go according to plan, and the day-to-day “surprises” are even more prevalent with a little one in the house.  Whether that be bumps and bruises or unwelcome diaper emergencies when in line at the grocery store, stuff happens!  I’ve learned now, more than ever, to avoid sweating the small stuff and simply roll with the punches.  This is really not much different than weathering market volatility during turbulent times, or evaluating alternatives to meet your goals when life throws a wrench in your financial plan.  Life will inevitably happen, and how you react can change the course of your financial future.  Managing through unexpected circumstances can also be much easier with a trusted advisor that provides objective advice and support.  At home, maybe that’s your spouse.  But in your financial life, a financial advisor can play that role.

Be Grateful

To say that we are grateful for our son would be the understatement of the millennia.  Of course, that’s not unique to my wife and me.  I’d venture to say that nearly every parent out there would agree that parenthood is one of the most rewarding endeavors they have ever embarked upon, and they are grateful for the privilege to be called “mom” or “dad.”  This same sense of gratefulness applies to other family members too, like nieces and nephews and even our pets!  I believe that in order to be genuinely grateful for anything in our lives, we have to step back, take a breath, and put our situation in perspective.  Maybe you have been trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and the effort has been futile – pause and give thanks for what you do have.  Maybe you feel behind on savings or investing for retirement – that’s OK, be thankful for the opportunities you have to correct course moving forward!  A strong sense of gratefulness seems to have a universal way of unlocking a peace that lives within each of us.  When we access this peace, we can usually think more clearly, make more rational personal and financial decisions, and live life to the fullest.

The parenting lessons that I’ve learned so far seem to parallel practical lessons that we can apply in our financial lives.  Much like parenting, following a financial plan can be challenging at times.  At Stonegate, we coach our clients to help build healthy, lasting financial habits.  We act as a sounding board and objective counselor when life does not go as planned, and we help our clients solve problems each and every day when life throws them curve balls.  As we frequently tell our clients, stick with those good habits you’re building and trust your financial plan.  And don’t panic when financial markets become turbulent.  In those challenging, fleeting periods, follow your plan and let your portfolio cry it out.

Any opinions are those of Trey Stilley and Stonegate Financial are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation.