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How Parents Waste Money

8 Stupid Ways Parents Waste Money

Yet another in the list of surprises you'll discover after becoming a parent: just how crazy-expensive kids are from the moment they exit the womb (seriously, wait until you see that postdelivery hospital bill). While you can't always control how much it's going to cost you to actually have a baby, there are money mistakes many parents, including myself, make (sometimes, again and again) that can be avoided.

From buying baby gear in bulk to overestimating my child's — and my own — desire to visit that local museum or zoo, here are eight ways I've wasted thousands of dollars since I became a parent. Learn from my financial mistakes, and your bank account will thank you.

  1. Buying baby shoes and other unwearable items. Baby shoes are adorable. So are tiny wool peacoats, glitter-covered headbands, 3-month-size skinny jeans, and baby cashmere sweaters. However, your little one will either never wear any of those items or spit up on them immediately, so save your money. Onesies, socks, comfy cotton leggings, and sweaters are more than sufficient, and your baby's cuteness speaks for itself. No need to amp it up with fancy, pricey garb.
  2. Making sure your baby has a new wardrobe every three months. Before I gave birth to my daughter, her closet was already stocked with a wardrobe for a newborn (she was eight pounds at birth and never wore a single item), a 0- to 3-month-old (she spent that entire period in a onesie and pajamas), a 3- to 6-month-old (she maybe added leggings and the occasional sweater to those onesies), and beyond. I packed up most of it, freshly washed and never worn. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars wasted.
  3. Purchasing season passes to every zoo/museum/play space the first time you visit. The first time you take your kid to the zoo or the science museum, you'll look at the entrance fee and think, "Wow, if we come back twice more, it would be cheaper to buy the yearly pass." Convinced you'll definitely be back at least that many times, you'll do it. Maybe one of these purchases will make sense (our season pass to a local arboretum with an awesome playground is tax-deductible and often used), but the rest? Our money stayed; we didn't make it back before our pass expired.
  4. Buying every baby gadget known to man. When you're shopping or registering for your first kid, you'll be confident that you need that swing, the bouncer, the exersaucer, and the most expensive baby carrier, car seat, play mat, and crib. You don't. If you're really smart, you'll borrow that baby gear from a friend to determine if your kids even like it before you make the financial commitment.
  5. Choosing nonfunctional furniture. After deciding it was time to ditch my son's crib, I spent more than a thousand dollars buying the single bed and adorable bedding I knew would look the best in his less-than-large room. After two weeks, my husband insisted I upgrade to a double, sick of trying to fit into a twin with a squirmy toddler, so I spent the same amount all over again. Also, when picking furniture, remember that cheaper pieces don't always end up that way if and when you have to replace them because they aren't sturdy enough to live up to your kids' abuse.
  6. Buying too many toys for holidays and birthdays. Your kid will be thrilled with three gifts from you, so don't buy 20. Who cares if grandma is more generous than Santa?
  7. Booking a Disney trip when your child is way too young. If you love Disney like I do, it can be extremely tempting to start booking your kid's first trip while they're still in diapers. Try to resist the urge. Between flights, hotel rooms, park tickets, stroller rentals, and food, this is an experience you want your kid to be old enough to remember. Save your pennies and splurge on your dream Disney trip when that day comes.
  8. Registering for classes when your kids are too young or uninterested. You know what's more frustrating than spending $200 for a dance class that meets seven times for a 2-year-old? Realizing that the class requires moms to leave and your child refuses to stay without you (and, soon after, realizing your kid's disinterest does not equal a refund for you). Do your research or, even better, wait until your child is old enough to express actual interest in a sport or activity before you drop the dough.

What are some other things you've wasted money on as a parent? Leave us a comment and weigh in!

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