Kids are inherently expensive, even for the most frugal families and the most careful financial planners. And although your bundle of joy comes with a host of costs you need to prepare for, there’s no reason to make having a baby even more expensive than it has to be.
Unfortunately, many parents make money mistakes that could lead to wasted money or even serious financial trouble.
Here are four common mistakes you should be aware of and avoid so that you’ll have more cash in your pocket for the important stuff.
1. Buying every baby gadget on the market
Today, there’s so much baby stuff on the market, your baby would need his or her own mansion to store it all. From wipe warmers to bouncy chairs to special blenders that make gourmet baby food, it’s tempting to buy everything so that your little one has the very best.
The reality, however, is that people have been raising babies for many years without all this stuff — and chances are pretty good that your bundle of joy will be fine without 90% of the baby products on the market.
If you’ve got a crib, some diapers, food, clothes, and a place to change your baby, you’re probably good to go. After your baby is born and you get into a routine, you can figure out what other products would actually make your day-to-day life easier.
2. Stocking up on too much stuff before you know what you’ll actually use
Almost every new parent has stories about buying tons of diapers in bulk only to discover that the brand leaks or is uncomfortable for the baby. Or expectant moms and dads buy tons of newborn-size clothes, only to give birth to a hefty 10-pounder that only fits in larger sizes.
Before you start stocking up on tons of stuff, try out potential items with your actual baby. You’ll figure out what works and then buy just the brands that you will actually use. And remember: Babies grow really quickly, so you’ll likely only need a few outfits in each size because chances are your baby won’t wear half of the cute things you purchase anyway.
3. Buying only brand-new baby gear
Some baby items, including cribs and car seats, should be purchased new so that they follow the latest safety guidelines and you’re promptly notified of any potential recalls.
But many other items are just fine gently used, including clothing, books, and most toys (just check for loose pieces). You can save a fortune by hitting up garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops, and your baby will look just as cute in a little outfit that another baby has already worn.
4. Failing to plan in advance for baby expenses
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes new parents make is failing to plan for the fact that kids do cost money — even if you’re very careful with what you buy. After all, you will need diapers, your baby will need to eat, and someone will probably have to watch your baby from time to time — which either means childcare or taking time off from work.
Newborns also need lots of healthcare services, including doctor visits and vaccines, and will likely have their own deductibles to meet on their parents’ insurance policy.
It’s a good idea to save up some cash in an emergency fund and figure out in advance what expenses you can expect. You can’t plan for everything, but you can determine how much money childcare or unpaid leave will cost your family and adjust your budget to account for it. You don’t want your baby expenses to catch you by surprise and have you reaching for your credit cards to cover costs.
Now you can avoid these top money mistakes
Now you know some of the key money mistakes you should avoid when having a baby. Your son or daughter should add joy to your life, not mess up your finances — so have a plan in place and get prepared for new expenses in advance so money won’t be a worry once your beautiful new baby enters the world.