Money Management 101 for Single Parents Going it Alone

1. Determine What You Owe

As the head of the household, it’s up to you to make sure that your entire family’s needs are being met. In order to do that, you need to be extremely diligent when it comes to money management basics. This is not something that will happen by accident. Instead, you must plan for it and work toward it.

The first step is to set up your “office.” Gather all of your bills, a calculator, a pencil, and your checkbook.

I would also recommend that you grab an old binder that you can use to keep track of your financial data and a shoebox for storing paid bills.

Now you’re ready to begin:

  • Go through all of your bills, and pay anything that is due within the next week.
  • If you have bills coming due that you cannot pay, notify the company and ask them to set up a payment plan with you.
  • Print a copy of the chart “Paying Down My Debts” or make your own.
  • On the chart, list all of your debts, including any car loans, student loans, and credit card debt.
  • In addition, list the total balance left to be paid on all of these debts, and the percentage rate you are paying.
  • For now, leave the fourth column of the chart blank, and store it in your “Financial Data” binder.

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2. Eliminate Joint Debt

Before we create a plan for paying down your debt, it’s important to consider some special circumstances that may apply to you as a single parent. I asked LaToya Irby, Credit/Debt Management Expert, to share her expertise on handling joint debt:

Wolf: Let’s say a single mom still shares a credit card with her ex. What should she do?

Irby: Ideally, she would want her ex to transfer his portion of any joint balances onto his own credit card. That way, everyone is paying for their own debt.

Wolf: What about leaving both names on the account, and agreeing to pay part of the amount due? Is that ever advisable?

Irby: No. If you’ve made an agreement with your ex to split the debt payments on accounts that include your name, and your ex-misses a payment, it’s going to hurt your credit. If the ex-fails to pay altogether, the creditors and collectors will come after you. Not even a divorce decree can change the terms of a joint credit card agreement. In the credit card issuer’s eyes, you’re just as much responsible for post-divorce accounts as before.

Wolf: What about situations when a couple’s divorce decree mandates that one individual must pay off the joint credit card debt, but that person fails to do it?

Irby: You can always file contempt of court papers against him/her, but in the meantime, your credit score suffers. So I suggest paying off the debt to save your credit. If you can’t afford to pay the debt, at least make minimum payments to keep a positive payment history on your credit report.

Wolf: What about other accounts, such as utilities and cell phones?

Irby: The safest thing to do, if you have a service in your ex’s name, is to turn off the account and reestablish service in your name.

 

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3. Find Money to Pay Down Debt

Another thing we have to do before creating a plan to pay down your existing debt is to find money in your budget each month. To assist in this step, I contacted Erin Huffstetler, Frugal Living Expert.

Wolf: How much money do you think the average person can uncover just by being more intentional about spending and budgeting?

Huffstetler: The average person could easily uncover an extra $250 a month—and probably much more.

Wolf: What are the top 5 areas that you think people should look to first when they’re trying to cut their expenses?

Huffstetler:

  • Food spending (both groceries and eating out)
  • TV-related expenses (cable/satellite services, certainly; but also movie subscriptions and rentals)
  • Phone services (particularly extras like call waiting, caller id, long distance, and cell phones)
  • Insurance premiums
  • Miscellaneous spending (all those small amounts spent on coffee, vending machine snacks, and other indulgences)

Wolf: How can single parents, specifically, stretch their child support dollars and reduce child-related expenses?

Huffstetler: For single parents looking to stretch their child support dollars, creativity is the key. Look to children’s consignment shops and thrift stores to buy your kids’ clothes instead of department stores; sign them up for Parks and Rec-run activities instead of privately-run activities (which will always cost more); and don’t feel like you have to make up for being a single parent by buying them extra things—it’s you they need, not stuff.

 

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4. Pay Off Your Debt

The next step is creating a schedule for paying down your debt:

  1. Pay off the debts that charge you the highest interest first.Bob Hammond, author of Life Without Debt, recommends that you pay off the debts that are charging you the highest interest first since borrowing from those creditors is costing you the most money. “Concentrate on paying off the high-cost debts as soon as possible,” Hammond advises. LaToya Irby, Credit/Debt Management Expert, agrees. “Highest interest rate debts cost the most money, especially when those debts have high balances. So you’ll save money on interest charges when you pay off those high-interest rate debts first.”However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Irby notes, “If you’re likely to get discouraged because it’s taking a long time to pay off that high-interest rate debt, you can start with the lowest balance debt. Getting some small debts paid off will motivate you to keep going.”
  2. Pay more than the minimum payment. Aim for paying more than the suggested minimum payment, in order to pay off your debts as quickly as possible.Miriam Caldwell, Money in Your 20’s Expert, shares this advice:
    • Choose one debt to focus on.
    • Increase your payment on that debt by as much as you can.
    • Once you have paid off that debt, move all that you are paying on it to the next debt you want to pay off.
    • You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get out of debt with this plan!
  3. Meanwhile, continue to pay the minimum balance due on all of your other debts.Record what you intend to pay toward each debt on the debt chart you made in Step 1.

 

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5. Budget Your Monthly Expenses

Now that you know where you stand financially, and you’ve created a plan for paying down your debts, it’s time to make sure that you’re making any other necessary adjustments so that you can keep up with your plan. And this means creating a budget.

I know this can be intimidating, but I’m going to make a suggestion for you: Sign up for Mint.com. It’s a free financial software program available on the Internet, and it will basically do your budgeting for you. It will create a visual pie chart showing how much you’re spending each month on housing, gas, food, entertainment, and more. This way, if it turns out that you’re spending a lot more on food than you really should, you can begin to make the necessary adjustments to get your spending under control.

If you would prefer to create your budget the traditional way, allotting a certain amount of money to each spending category, I’ve created an online budget calculator you can use, which includes categories for child support and other details specific to your life as a single parent.

Finally, in taking a look at where your money really goes each month, it’s important to know approximately how much money you “should” be spending in each category. Generally speaking, your net spendable income (after taxes) should be allocated as follows*:

  • Housing: 30%
  • Food: 12%
  • Auto: 14%
  • Insurance: 5%
  • Debt: 5%
  • Entertainment: 7%
  • Clothing: 6%
  • Savings: 5%
  • Medical/Dental: 4%
  • Miscellaneous: 7%
  • Child Care: 5%
  • Investments: 5%

 

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6. Set Financial Goals

Now that you’ve worked out a plan to pay down your debt, and you’ve created a budget, it’s time to determine your needs moving forward.

Specifically, as a single parent, you need to ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • Do you need to file for child support?
  • Do you need to get a higher-paying job?
  • Is it time to think about going back to school?
  • Do you need to consider moving into a home/rental that would reduce your overall monthly payments?
  • Are there alternatives, such as taking on another job or splitting expenses with another single parent family, that you need to consider at this point?

One of the things that I want you to know is that the ball is in your court. You determine where this goes from here on out. But unfortunately, you can’t do that if you’re ignoring your financial health, right?

So the fact that you’ve come this far in the process of getting a handle on your finances tells me that you’re determined to make the changes you need to make in order to provide for your family’s future.

So go ahead and ask yourself these questions. So much of single parenting is learning to roll with the punches and be creative in the face of adversity. If, indeed, you need to make some pretty major changes, now is the time to do it. Don’t incur any more debt where you are. Be resourceful, follow through, and do what you need to do to turn your financial situation around.

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7. Increase Your Net Worth

The next step is to determine your net worth and begin adding to it.

Determine Your Net Worth:

Your net worth is what you own minus what you owe. Programs such as Mint.com, Quicken, and Microsoft Money will calculate your net worth for you, automatically.

You can also determine your net worth simply by adding up all that you own, including all of your investments, the equity you may have paid into your home, the value of your car, and any other assets you possess; and subtracting what you owe in remaining debts.

Set Up a Savings Account:

Once you know where you stand, you’ll be ready to set up a savings account. You can do this through your regular bank, or begin investing in a mutual fund that pays interest.

Even if you can only afford to set aside $25 or $50 per month, it will begin to add up.

Before you know it, you’ll have an emergency savings plan in place, to protect you in the event that your car breaks down, or your home needs a major repair.

In addition, this regular savings will help you increase your net worth over time.

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8. Become Even More Frugal

Unfortunately, all of the work you’ve already done in steps 1-7 will have little lasting value if you don’t change your attitude toward money. Now is the time to become even more frugal and learn to live within your means.

Practice Discipline:

Stop imagining that more money is going to pour in tomorrow—through finally collecting on unpaid child support, winning the lottery, or getting a promotion. If those things happen, great! You’ll be even better off. But living as if they’re going to happen is causing you to spend money you don’t have.

Instead, force yourself to make purchases with cash only. Do not continue to pay outrageous interest payments toward credit cards for purchases you don’t absolutely need. You can get by without that new furniture, right? What else could you skip, in the interest of spending only what you have right now in the bank?

Try These Ideas:

  • Check Freecycle before you make another major purchase. Someone else may be giving away the very thing you’d like to buy!
  • When you’re getting ready to buy something specific, look for it on eBay first. I buy a lot of my clothes, new-with-tags, through online auctions!
  • Forget trying to keep up with “The Jones’s.” You already know your value; don’t get caught up trying to “prove” your worth to others by having “just the right” house, car, or appearance.
  • Do not use shopping, ever, to appease your emotions.
  • Finally, when you do go to make a big purchase, step back and give yourself a few days–or even a week–to think about it. There’s no reason to suffer through buyer’s remorse and try to justify to yourself purchases that you really can’t afford. Think it over carefully and make those purchases, when necessary, with cash.

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9. Schedule Your Own Weekly Financial Check-In

Grab your calendar and schedule a weekly financial update meeting with yourself. This is an extremely important step in managing your personal finances, and it’s one that you need to continue each and every week. During your “meeting” time:

  • Pay any bills that are due.
  • If your bank statement has arrived, take the time to balance your checkbook.
  • Check the balances of your checking and savings accounts.
  • Update your debt list to incorporate any recent payments.
  • This is also a good time to write out your grocery shopping list and check what’s on sale at your local grocery store this week (either using the store’s Web site or the sales circular that comes in the newspaper).
  • Finally, also make note of any upcoming expenses you need to anticipate and plan for.

An attitude of gratitude and finances.

 

 

References:
Irby, LaToya. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008, 
Huffstetler, Erin. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008. 
Sources:
Caldwell, Miriam. Email interview. 27 Oct. 2008, Hammond, Bob. “Debt Free Key: 10 Steps for Coping With Credit Problems.” Life Without Debt. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 1995. 31-32, Irby, LaToya. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008. 
“Spending Plan Online Calculator.” Crown Financial Ministries. 11 Oct. 2008.

Written By: Jennifer Wolf

Source: thebalance

 

 

 

Are You Leaving the Same Amount to All of Your Beneficiaries?

Father Holding Daughter's Hand
Spirit-Fire/Flickr

One-third of all parents with wills have divided their estates unequally among their children, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The study found bequests in complex families – families with stepchildren or estranged children – are more likely to be unequal. The Squared Away Blog reported:

“…parents with stepchildren are considerably less likely to include all of their children than are parents who have only biological offspring. This is more true for women with stepchildren than for men with stepchildren. Divorced and widowed parents are even less likely to divide their assets evenly if they have stepchildren.”

The blog reported there were some mitigating factors. Wealthier parents were more likely to include stepchildren and children with whom they had little or no contact during their lifetimes than less wealthy parents. However, parents who suffered from poor health were less likely to divide their estates equally. Bequests sometimes were used as an incentive to provide long-term care.

Since children may interpret unequal inheritance as an expression of unequal love, why do parents play favorites? Researchers at Ohio State University delved into the question in 2003 and reported altruism (equalizing income differences among children), exchange (bequests in return for services), and/or evolution (bequests to biological children rather than adopted or stepchildren) played a role when distribution of assets was uneven.

Setting an Example for Future Generations

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Cade Martin, Dawn Arlotta, USCDCP

Do your children or grandchildren spend summers mowing lawns, repairing computers, or selling movie tickets? Perhaps, they have part-time jobs during the school year, bagging groceries, or working in a local shop. No matter the type of work done, if a young person has earned income, he or she can save in a Roth IRA.

While saving for retirement probably isn’t even a blip on the radar for most young people, their older relatives are aware of the challenges related to saving for and generating income in retirement. Many also understand the importance of starting early – a task that has been made easier by custodial Roth IRAs. It is now possible to establish Roth IRAs for children who are younger than age 18, as long as they have earned income.

Communicating the importance of saving for retirement (and other goals) to younger family members is important, especially when the 2015 Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey found about 39 percent of working Americans are not currently saving for retirement. Since actions often speak louder than words, a Time.com reporter offered this suggestion:

“Most kids will not have the ability or discipline to fund the account through their earnings. But adults can reward their hard work by contributing on their behalf. This demonstrates the value of saving…The additional saving is all the more important for young people, who will have fewer sources of guaranteed lifetime income in their retirement years.”

Money Chimp’s compounding calculator suggests a one-time $5,000 investment, earning 6 percent a year on average, would be worth more than $178,000 in 60 years. That could become tax-free income for a child or grandchild’s retirement if the investment was in a Roth IRA. Please keep in mind, this is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary. The hypothetical 6% return used is not guaranteed and does not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing.

Of course, one attractive aspect of a Roth IRA account is the assets also can be used, penalty-free, for college tuition or the purchase of a first home, as long as certain requirements are met (including the account having been open for at least five years). About the Roth IRA – The Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax.

The Staggering Cost of Daycare When You Make Only the Minimum Wage

(Flickr user Katia Strieck)
(Flickr user Katia Strieck)

Child care costs would now devour at least 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s earnings in every state, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute has found.

To cover a year of full-time infant care in Hawaii — the state with the median minimum wage ($7.75) — a worker at the bottom of the pay scale would have to spend every paycheck from January until September.

Such workers in New York and Massachusetts would have to fork up more than 80 percent of their annual earnings, according to the findings, published Tuesday. In Washington, D.C., they’d need to throw in everything — plus extra: 102 percent of a minimum wage salary is required to cover the average annual cost of infant care. (Find your state here.)

This reality leaves few options for families with sparse financial resources and inflexible work schedules, said Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI, who co-wrote the study. Even if a parent qualifies for child care subsidies, waiting lists in some states can stretch long enough for her to lose a job or leave a child in a risky arrangement .

“It’s time for some sort of policy intervention,” Gould said. “The market just hasn’t found a workable solution for this.”

This election cycle, the price of daycare has emerged a hot topic among presidential hopefuls . Democratic contenders say the burden breaks middle-class budgets, often trumping the rent check. Hillary Clinton, for example, has called for more government money to support public child care programs. Bernie Sanders, her biggest challenger on the left so far, advocates for universal preschool and paid family leave.

Conservative voices are also starting to join the national conversation: Last month, Marco Rubio became the first Republican candidate to address the problem with a policy proposal, announcing a new tax break for companies that offer paid leave to employees.

Nearly 11 million children younger than 5 in the United States depend on some type of weekly child care arrangement, according to Child Care Aware of America, which tracks national data.

The average annual price of daycare for infants, which varies across the country, is higher than that of a year of public college in two-thirds of states, Gould noted. Parents pay an average of $16,500 in Massachusetts, $11,628 in California and $12,500 in Illinois, according to Child Care Aware.

“As child care consumes a larger proportion of family budgets,” the EPI researchers wrote, “funding high-quality child care services should be a paramount concern for governments, business leaders, and families alike.”

Tax breaks for companies that allow workers to maintain more flexible and reliable work schedules would also help, Gould said. Oftentimes, the lowest paid workers must scramble to find any care at all once their rigid hours are posted.

Written by Danielle Paquette of The Washington Post

(Source: The Washington Post)

7 Things to Teach Your Kids in Kindergarten if You Want Them to Grow Up to be Rich

The earlier you start teaching money basics, the better.
© Image Credit: Shutterstock, Provided by Business Insider

Only 17 states in the US require that students at public high schools take a personal finance class before they graduate.

“At the end of the day, kids are not being taught the fundamentals in school. As much as we think or hope they are, it’s not happening,” says Gregg Murset, certified financial planner and founder of MyJobChart.com, a free tool that teaches kids about money.

That means parents are the ones that have to assume responsibility — and the earlier you start teaching money basics, the better.

“Even if they have personal finance being taught in high school, that’s too late,” explains Murset. “They’re quasi-set in their ways by the time they’re 17, so you really have to start a lot earlier.”

Every kid learns at a different pace, but you can start laying the groundwork as early as five years old, Murset says.

Here are seven money lessons you can introduce to your kids as early as kindergarten. The more interactive and fun you can make it, the more they’ll absorb, so we’ve also included strategies to help convey the basics suggested by Murset and Peggy Mangot, CEO of SparkGift, a new platform that helps parents teach kids to start investing early.

Of course, we can’t guarantee they’ll grow to be millionaires, but if you can hammer home these concepts from a young age, they’ll be ahead of the curve.

1. The concept of earning.

© Image Credit: John Moore / Getty, Provided by Mental Floss

The earlier parents establish the concept of earning, the better, says Murset. Kids need to understand where money comes from, and that it requires a job and work ethic to get money in your wallet.

Strategy: Introduce the concept of an allowance, and give them specific jobs around the house that will earn them a bit of money each week.

Note that giving an allowance the wrong way — not having discussions about how to use the money and simply handing over a certain amount each week — can do more harm than good. Check out the most effective way to give your kids an allowance so they’re actually learning about money.

Another option is to encourage them to participate in a bake sale or lemonade stand — something that requires them to put in work in exchange for earnings.

2. What it means to save, share, and spend.

© Image Credit: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson, Provided by Business Insider

Once your kids understand the concept of earning money, teach them the three things they can do with their earnings: save, share, and spend.

“If you can relay the concept of earning and then splitting it up — I save for the future, I share with charities or causes I care about, and I spend on things I want or need — that’s powerful stuff,” says Murset. “It’s really personal finance 101.”

Strategy: Once your kids have earned money from a bake sale or having completed jobs around the house, explain that in addition to being able to spend it, they need to save and share some.

“Open a savings account for your child,” recommends Mangot. “Even a small amount ($20) is a great start. The key is to get in the practice of saving for the long-term.” Then, make it a habit, she says: “Make it a monthly practice with your child to make additional deposits to their savings account so they can watch it grow.”

As for sharing, help them find a charity or cause that interests them and pick a day each month to donate.

When it comes to spending, take them to the store with you so they can see what $5 or $10 can buy — let them know that they don’t have to spend it right away and that waiting will mean more savings in the future, but let them make the final decision.

3. How debit and credit cards work.

© Image Credit: Shutterstock, Provided by Business Insider

The concept of debit and credit cards are more difficult than ever for kids to grasp, explains Murset: “We used to be able to pull out our purse or wallet and there would be a wad of money. Now, it’s always a card or phone — something invisible — which makes it even more difficult to teach kids about money.”

It’s important for them to understand that the swipe of a card means money is being removed from an account, Murset says.

Strategy: When you’re checking out at the store with your debit or credit card, let them help you enter your PIN number and use it as a chance to explain how the card works. You can also show them the different cards you have and explain how using one card — the debit — will take money out from an account right away, while the credit card will send a bill at the end of the month.

4. How coupons work.

Introducing the concept of coupons will help to ingrain conscious spending habits, which will pay off in the long run as they get older and start spending their own money.

Strategy: Have your kids cut coupons out with you and then use them together at the grocery store or pharmacy. To help them understand that you saved money, you can show them, or let them keep a portion of, the exact dollar amount the coupon saved.

5. What it means to match contributions.

© Image Credit: Flickr/Carissa Rogers, Provided by Business Insider

You can introduce the concept of matching from a young age, says Murset. “If you get that into a kid’s brain really early — that matching works and grows their money — what do you think they’re going to do the first time they get a job and have a 401(k)?” he says.

Strategy: If your kids decide to save their money instead of spend it, match what they save. You can match them 100% or 10% — any amount will help them understand the basics of the concept.

6. The basics of investing.

© Image Credit: Shutterstock, Provided by Business Insider

This may seem like a stretch, but Mangot has had success introducing her 6-year-old to the world of investing by letting him purchase stocks and follow the stock ticker. It’s all about showing instead of telling, and keeping it fun and interesting, she tells us.

Strategy: Open an investment account for your kids and use the money that they have earned to buy stocks with them. “If they actually have their own accounts, they can actually look at how the stock is doing, and how the value is going up or down,” she says.

They’ll get excited about this, especially if they’ve picked companies that interest them, like Disney or Nike. “While a sound investment portfolio is well-diversified, getting your kids started by investing in companies that personally interest them will help keep them interested and motivated,” she explains.

Then, take advantage of the digital tools out there to keep them consistently engaged. Mangot uses the built in stock ticker on the iPhone to let her kids track the market, but there are other online tools that will link to investment accounts and let you track your portfolio, such as the Google Finance tracker and SigFig. Link your kids’ accounts and they’ll be able to follow the market in real time and see the performance of their stocks.

7. How to be proud of their savings.

© Image Credit: Kevin White/flickr, Provided by Business Insider

Mastering money hinges more on mindset than anything else, and one distinction between rich people and average people is their relationship to money: They see money as their friend, while the average person sees it as their enemy. They are prideful about their earnings and expect to make more — and they generally do just that.

“Help your kids take pride in their saving and investing habits,” says Mangot. “Tell the world.”

Strategy: Encourage your kids to tell their grandparents and other family members that they’ve starting saving or investing their money, suggests Mangot. They’ll likely want to support your kids’ endeavor, and could offer to gift money for their savings or investment account rather than a more traditional present for birthdays and holidays.

Written by Kathleen Elkins of Business Insider

(Source: Business Insider)

6 Things New Parents Waste Money On

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

© Thomas Northcut/Getty Images 

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

© RonTech2000/Getty Images

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

© alexandradabija/Getty Images

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

© Chris_Escobido/Getty Images

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

© foto by Chandler Chou/Getty Images

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

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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)