These days, becoming a parent offers ripe opportunities for rampant overspending. Between mommy blogs and Facebook ads, you’re bombarded with all the little (and big) things your baby “needs.”
It’s certainly not bad to splurge a bit on your baby, who is, after all, the brand new love of your life. But overspending can cause serious problems down the road. For one, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of overspending that continues throughout a child’s life, leading to both personal and financial issues. And if spending on baby precludes you from meeting other essential financial goals – paying off debt, saving for retirement or college, etc. – you’ve got some major problems.
So where do new parents today tend to overspend? And how can you avoid spending too much on your new bundle of joy? We’re here with some advice.
The 2015 Liberty Mutual Insurance New Beginnings Report surveyed nearly 2,000 adults 18 and older from across the nation. The survey revealed that new parents are making some interesting purchases.
For instance, 61 percent of expecting parents were planning to purchase a tablet, laptop or other home electronics, while 43 percent planned to purchase furniture for the baby. And 33 percent of potential parents were planning a home renovation, while 21 percent planned to buy high-end, designer diaper bags or shoes for the mom-to-be.
This report doesn’t break down everything parents might spend money on, but it does hit some major areas. So what are parents wasting money on, and how can you avoid the waste?
This list isn’t necessarily in any particular order, and some of these purchases may make sense for your situation. If you have loads of money to spend after paying off debt, saving for retirement and college, and meeting your basic obligations, splurge away! But if you find that the budget is a bit tight while expecting a new baby, skip out on these six common spends.
1. A fancy nursery
In the age of Pinterest, it’s hard not to drool over an adorable themed nursery, complete with refinished furniture, glittery walls and high-end light fixtures. But here’s the thing: Your baby doesn’t care. He or she won’t even notice the glitter on the walls for a few years.
Instead: If you’re tight on cash, skip the fancy nursery in favor of a comfortable, safe place for baby to sleep. Or go basic with a cheerful paint color in the spare room.
2. Expensive furniture
Full baby bedroom suites can be expensive, and they’re really not necessary. Depending on your home and your sleeping arrangements, you might never use an actual crib. Babies can sleep in more affordable Pack ‘n Plays. And you may find that you change your baby more often on the bed or floor than on a $500 changing table.
Instead: Used furniture is where it’s at when it comes to furnishing the baby’s room. Again, you just need a comfortable place for your baby to sleep, and a place to keep clothes and other essentials. A note here, though: Go new for your crib mattress, as a study in BMJ found that used mattresses increased the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
3. A huge wardrobe
Word to the wise: Steer clear of Gymboree, Carter’s and Baby Gap when you’re pregnant. Those tiny, adorable clothes are just too tempting – and unnecessarily expensive! Sure, it’s fun to buy your baby a couple stylish outfitsfor special occasions. But for everyday wear, you will prefer the ease and simplicity of onesies in warm weather, and one-piece sleepers when it’s cool. And you really only need enough clothes in each size to get through a week – less if you can do a load of laundry midweek.
Instead: It’s amazing what you can get for kids secondhand. Baby clothes are especially easy to buy used, since babies outgrow their clothing so quickly. Check out garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops for cute, basic outfits at a steep discount.
4. Baby shoes
This one ties into the huge wardrobe, but it’s a problem of its own. Tiny baby shoes are ridiculously expensive, even though they’re adorable. Again, it can be fun to have a pair (hopefully bought secondhand) for your baby’s first Christmas or other occasion. But babies who can’t walk yet don’t need shoes.
Instead: Skip the shoes for not-yet-walking babies in favor of socks (when necessary) or even footed jammies. When they begin to cruise, protect your baby’s feet outdoors with affordable, sock-like shoes with flexible, grippy soles.
5. Baby gadgets
The Internet is packed with thousands of baby gadgets – Diaper Genies, wipe warmers, video monitors, baby time trackers and more. These can sometimes be helpful, but they’re rarely necessary.
Instead: When in doubt about whether or not you “need” a particular baby gadget, ask your grandma if she had anything like it. Chances are she didn’t, and she got along just fine.
6. Designer anything
Yes, designer diaper bags can make you feel a little less like a sleep-derived, puke-wearing mommy. But, again, not necessary. When you’ve slept five hours all week and are wearing someone else’s puke, you won’t really care who designed the diaper bag, as long as it has the wipes and clean diaper you need right that second.
Instead: Save splurges like these for last. If you’ve got room in your budget and this is important to you, go for it. If not, pick up an inexpensive bag secondhand, and live with it.
Written by Abby Hayes of U.S. News & World Report
(Source: U.S. News & World Report)