What’s your financial advice for parents?
Do you feel like your kid is costing an arm and a leg?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, every child costs mom and dad $233,610. And that’s only up until 17 and doesn’t include college expenses!
As a pick-up-a-penny-on-the-street kind of person, that stings!
While I love my baby and want to give her the best, there’s got to be another way that doesn’t drastically impact your quality of life.
I asked 21 mom bloggers this question:
“What was your biggest money mistake as a parent?”
There are some stories that hit home for me like Carly from Mommy on Purpose revealing how she would fall for the baby sleep products.
It’s so true! I remember when I was that sleep deprived zombie who would have tried anything and everything to get just a few hours of sleep in a row.
Or McKinzie at Moms Make Cents talking about being mindful of clothing color purchases for future babies.
I’m looking at my baby girl right now. She’s wearing a shirt that says “This girl is the future” with her pink, sparkly sweatshirt with flowers on it. Fail! This is something I need to keep in the back of my mind.
One thing I’ve been putting off for a while is getting a savings account for my daughter like what Kori from Kori at Home mentioned. This is now on my to-do list this month! Thanks for the reminder, Kori!
Whether you’re a new or seasoned mom, there are tips here to help you manage your growing family’s finances including:
- Money saving tips for families
- Surprisingly high kid expenses you should budget for
- Important things you need to prioritize for your family finances
Listed alphabetically by first name, here are the moms that revealed their parenting mistakes when it comes to their wallets.
Thank you for your words of wisdom, ladies.
Related Financial Advice for Parents Articles:
- Easy Ways to Chop your Food Expenses by 50%
- 0-3 Month Baby Must Haves for Frugal Parents
- 6-12 Month Baby Essentials
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Amy at So Goes Life
“My introduction to parenting began with stepkids. I drastically underestimated the cost for food for teenagers. It took me a while to get the hang of purchasing and managing food for kids that were in and out of the house.
I also didn’t realize how much more expensive schooling costs were as my kids went from elementary to middle and then high school. Always assume you will need more money for school fees then you expect.”
Audrey at Mommy Enlightened
“I’m embarrassed to say my biggest mistake with money and kids is buying them everything. I have a one and a three year old and I really struggle with not buying them things when I see something they would like. I’m impulsive and gift giving is how I express my love.
I ended up with a bit of credit card debt and now we have too many toys–it’s actually very overwhelming. That also means I was not budgeting for emergencies. I think it’s important to remember that things are nice, but your child can get overwhelmed with too many options. Not only that, but the experiences (not material items) will count for a lot more in the long run.”
Carly from Mommy On Purpose
“It was a mistake to fall for marketing that told me THIS product would help my baby sleep better / be less fussy – after you’ve tried a few things, sometimes, all that works is letting time go by. Some babies just don’t sleep well or be less fussy no matter how many different beds you buy or brands of gripe water you give them.”
Cindy at Living for the Sunshine
“My biggest money mistake as a mom was feeling I needed to buy everything new. It’s such a waste of money and environmentally to buy all new clothes, toys, and baby equipment. It adds up so fast and you use it for a few months, max.
I would recommend buying everything used, or even borrowing if possible. Keep the money you saved and put it in a college account for your babe, or a nice family vacation!”
Francesca from From Pennies to Pounds
“My biggest money mistake as a parent would be comparing myself to other parents on social media such as Instagram, feeling guilt, and then trying to be like them.
I would spend time searching on Instagram or Pinterest and look at the kids’ rooms which were beautifully styled, with the children wearing adorable outfits and playing with cute vintage toys, and I wanted the same for my daughter. I felt like it wasn’t her fault that I didn’t have any money, and I wanted to give her the things that I felt she deserved just as much as these Instagram accounts.
I ended up decorating her room, getting her all of the things – but putting them on a credit card. In the end, I came to my senses and paid off the debt, and concentrated on earning extra money. Now I only buy her what I can afford, and she knows that she can’t have everything in the toy shop.”
Kirsty at The Money Saving Mum
“Not managing and monitoring my money from the start! Things change when you have kids and things need to be adapted whether we like it or not… I should’ve done it from the start instead of realising a few years in because it only gets worse!”
Kori from Kori At Home
“My biggest money mistake as a parent was not setting up a savings account (per child) right away. If I could go back, I would correct this mistake for my two older children.”
Kristine at Kris Bee Mama
“As a parent, it is so easy to get lost in finances. Everything costs money from clothes to food to childcare (in its many forms) and every other bill you already had before having children.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was clueless about being a mom and everything it would take to raise a child. I registered for everything and anything people recommended. But, I found all I really needed were the essentials to make sure my baby could sleep, eat, travel safely, and be clean (which, of course, includes diapers).
Since every baby is different, most everything else can wait until you know what type of baby you have and what they need. I ended up spending a lot of money on items I never used or barely used (even after having a second child). So, stick to the essentials. And, stick to a budget!”
Liz at The Stay Sane Mom
“As is the case with so many other areas in life, the biggest parenting money mistake I’ve had to face was not planning ahead of time for all the little “surprises” that pop up.
Of course you plan for the big things like food, clothing, and diapers, but I’m perpetually shocked by how many little things pop up which I didn’t think of initially. This is random big surprises (like summer camp, braces, or school field trip expenses), but it also includes the little, day-to-day splurges that pop up more often than you could ever have planned.
When they’re babies the expenses are mercifully minimal, especially if you nurse them. Then, as they become toddlers, you all of a sudden have a sentient little creature riding around in your grocery cart that has desires and very strong preferences of their own.
Now you buy a $2-$8 item to pacify them every time you shop. (Non-moms might see this as extravagant, but anyone who’s been mid-tantrum in aisle 16 of their local Target knows what a monumental bargain the price of another bouncy ball is in exchange for a few minutes of attempting to find the laundry detergent and toilet paper in peace.)
After a few years of mild financial anguish, we’ve added a “splurge” category in our budget for each child. This has taken the guesswork out of these little expenses that used to add up to big worries. Now we’re free to indulge in a spontaneous ice cream cone or grocery store bribery without feeling like we’re sabotaging our household finances. We keep tabs on how much “splurge” money we have left for each kid for that month so we don’t go over budget, but as long as we keep things reasonable we’re free to be the “fun parent” guilt-free every once in a while.”
Madiha at Rainbow Desire
“Well as a mom of two, it is definitely not easy to have your finances under control. After having kids, the expense graph gets really steep in a matter of a few months. However, my kids are under 3 and they are not going to school or daycare yet so my expenses can be minimized for now except diapers and toy hunting. My son loves cars and every visit, he wants a new set of small cars. Well for many moms it would be overspending but as long as he is using and playing with them, I am happy to buy them.
However, the biggest money mistake is getting a huge crib for my firstborn. You know just like every first-time parent, you want to get the best. I don’t know how many moms can relate but If I have to purchase a big item, I would rather spend more to get something that is durable.
Long story short, we got a huge crib with a changing station attached. It was a beautiful crib but I guess it was too early to get it. We did not set up a nursery room for my son and we had to place that crib in our master bedroom. Ironically, my son never slept in it. The only thing that I still use is the changing station attached to it. The crib has not been used for sleeping by both of my kids, not even as a toddler bed. Moreover, it was taking up so much space in our room. Now I am waiting for my kids to grow up to use it as a twin bed for either of them. Fingers crossed to bring it to some use one day.
My advice to all parents – try not to be too hasty about buying baby stuff. I understand all the excitement, but you have to spend according to what your circumstances will be. Spend less in the beginning and then you can apply your experience of what works best for you.”
Mallory at Mama on Parade
“Underestimating what it would really cost to have kids. I didn’t fully think through things like furniture, diapers, wipes, clothes every month, toys, etc. I didn’t budget like I should have for these extra items, especially the unexpected ones. I should have put more money aside each month to cover baby supplies than what I did.”
Maria at Literally Simple
“My biggest money mistake as a parent was not having the uncomfortable conversations about our student loan debt before we had children. We really had very little expenses, and could have paid more of the debt off, but we didn’t. As a result, we have had to aggressively cut back as a family of three. We basically live off one income and the 2nd income goes to debt repayment. Yikes!
Also, I wouldn’t call this a mistake, but after I became a parent I realized I needed a lot less stuff. I wish I would have found minimalism before I had a kid because I probably would have saved myself a lot of time and money. With a child, it has been amazing to no longer feel the “need” to have every baby or kid product or toy. Embrace minimalism would be my advice for parents.”
Marisa at Marisa Martinez Blog
“My biggest money mistake as a parent:
I wish that I would have saved as much as possible while pregnant for my labor and delivery. We had the money set aside for a normal hospital stay, but when my baby unexpectedly had to have a NICU stay it sent us into debt with medical bills! Had we just continued saving all throughout our pregnancy and stockpiling money until we were home safe from the hospital, we could have avoided the extra debt! Lesson learned!”
McKinzie at Moms Make Cents
“My kiddos are still very little (3 and a newborn) so I haven’t had a ton of time to make big money mistakes, but one thing I wish I’d done differently is that I’d purchased more neutral items when I had my first baby. My first is a boy and my second is a girl. As we prepared for her arrival, I realized everything I had was some shade of blue. Although, blue is fine for girls and she rocks it frequently, I wish I’d thought about my purchases more and how they would be used for future children down the road.”
Merissa at Little House Living
“Buying any kind of new clothing. There are so many incredible deals to be had at yard sales and consignment stores (not to mention hand me downs from friends and family!). Kids grow out of things so fast or they stain/tear it the first time they wear it. Used clothing costs a fraction of new and the savings are 100% worth it.”
Natalie at My Day Dream Bookkeeping
“My biggest money mistake as a parent has actually been my ability to get things 2nd hand for free. Although I thought I was being smart by always trying to get toys and clothes free, it ended up always costing me big time when it came to my mental health and wellness. I found that my house quickly became cluttered with toys my son never cleaned up and I was frustrated all the time. I still recommend trying to get items used but make sure that you actually need them and aren’t inviting unnecessary clutter into your home.”
Penny at Penniless Parenting
“My biggest money mistake as a parent was not taking care of myself and denying myself things that mattered to me for years, and putting my kids first. Because eventually I ended up in a not good emotional place where all these things I pushed aside for years became desperate emotional needs, which ended up taking a much larger toll emotionally and financially than if I’d taken care of myself from the start.”
Ridhwanah at A Busy Bee Mom
“I think the most challenging thing is not being able to keep up with the amount of wastage that happens whether that be with food, clothes, and TOYS. I get so carried away with wanting to enroll my girls in every activity without realizing my finances are trying to play catch up. Us moms are trying to juggle so many things at once that finances sometimes gets put to the wayside.
I think stick to being minimal at best, practical with what you have, and focus on cutting down waste. Wastage is usually the runny leak most families aren’t focusing on as the culprit for money loss.”
Roni at Mamas Wallet
“My biggest money mistake for me as a new parent, because my husband and I struggled for 7 years before we had our son. I over indulged in clothing, shoes, and any shiny toys that light up that sometimes weren’t even age appropriate for him. Some things were totally unnecessary but the good thing for me once I got my head on straight, I was able to bless a new mom at my church with a lot of items that were practically brand new.”
Stephanie at Healthy, Savvy & Wise
“The biggest parenting money mistake my kids’ dad and I made was to discuss money worries within earshot of our kids. I’m not talking about regular finance topics that are healthy to talk to kids about. We’re talking loud, anxious, semi-fights about spending too much, not having enough to cover bills, and having to file bankruptcy.
My precious preteen daughters were scarred by those experiences and have money anxiety issues to deal with now. Don’t fight about money in front of your children. It’s not okay…ever.”
Tara at Tara Berg
“When it comes to money, I am a bargain queen. Friends that have run errands with me are always in awe of my detailed shopping list and electronically clipped coupons. During my monthly visit to the grocery store, I arrive with a detailed meal plan and list in hand after spending hours the night before scouring sales ads. When it comes to buying clothes for my family, I always wait until there is a sale to purchase anything.
As careful as I seem, I still have made mistakes with my money. In fact, the biggest money mistake I have made as a parent is failing to commit to financial goals. After my son was born, our financial situation became rather grim. Daycare was expensive, a few medical fees arose, and we ran into expense after expense with our house. It seemed that my husband and I couldn’t (and still can’t) catch a break. We ended up draining our savings to pay for house projects. I knew deep down how important it was for us to set aside money in our savings account, but there never seemed to be enough left over at the end of the month to build it back up.
Looking back and critiquing our situation is always a lot easier than trying to make sense of our finances while I am suffocating under a pile of bills. If I could go back to the beginning of my marriage, I would tell my younger, naïve self two things. First of all, don’t drain your savings. Find another way. Again, that is easy to say now that I’m in a position of feeling financially stuck, but I also can think of many frivolities over the last five years that I could have given up instead of dipping into savings—things like expensive makeup, “treat yo self” gifts when I was having a rough day, or that Christmas wreath that I carried around the store for an hour because it smelled so good, but I knew I didn’t need it. If I added up all of those little luxuries, it probably would have paid for that furnace replacement and then some.
Along with this, I would remind myself to put money in savings as soon as I got my paycheck. If I deposit into my savings before spend money anywhere else, then it is there and I am much less likely to spend it. This works a lot better than waiting until the end of the month and realizing “Whoops, all of the money is gone, I guess I can’t put anything in savings this month.” I wish we had protected our savings account and continued to contribute to it over the last five years. Now, our family of three is quickly outgrowing our two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, but we are kind of stuck until we save up more money and build up more equity.
Furthermore, if we were to have a real financial emergency, such as my husband being unexpectedly laid off, we could be in a seriously deep hole that we may not be able to get out of. Having a substantial amount of money in savings is something I used to take for granted, but now that I am without it, I truly understand its value, and I will do everything I can to protect it once I get it back.”
Related Financial Advice for Families Articles:
- Quick Ways to Lower your Food Expenses
- Newborn Essentials for Frugal Parents
- 6-12 Month Baby Must Haves
- Free Baby Samples for Expecting Parents
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