As anyone with a child can attest: Kids are expensive.
According to EarlyBird, which tapped 2022 USDA data, the average cost of raising a child to age 18 is around $288,094, or $16,005 per year. Costs of course vary; and, as every parent/caregiver knows all too well, you can easily spend way more than $16,000 a year on a kid. Especially if you buy them things they don’t really need.
What are examples of kids’ items that are wastes of money? Let’s explore.
Fancy Baby Shoes
Oh, the cute little moccasins, sneakers and sandals out there for babies are simply precious. They’re also, usually, a total waste of your hard-earned money.
“Babies do not need shoes until they start walking,” said Tasia Boland, a frugal living expert. “Save money by purchasing soft socks or booties to keep their feet warm and protected.”
Strollers have become a strange status symbol for many parents with young children. Thinking you need a high-end one (like this nearly $1,400 Uppababy stroller) is a poor mentality that can, indeed, make you poor.
“While strollers are a necessity, high-end models with extravagant features may not be worth the premium price tag,” said Brittany Kline of The Savvy Mama. “Parents can find reasonably priced strollers that offer safety, comfort and durability.”
Not only is there a ton of expensive designer clothing out there for adults, there’s a ton for kids. Some of the available items are heartbreakingly adorable (e.g., this high-end collection from Burberry sold at Saks Fifth Avenue). But these designer rags for kids are unsavvy investments.
“Children grow out of clothes quickly, so investing in high-end designer clothing that they will outgrow soon may not be the best financial decision,” said Paul Martinez, founder of EcomSidekick. “Children’s clothing can still be fashionable and practical without the need for expensive price tags.”
Licensed Character Merchandise
Your kid(s) may be obsessed with Marvel superheroes and/or Disney princesses, but how long will their interest in these characters last?
“Products featuring popular licensed characters from movies, TV shows or video games often come with higher price tags due to branding,” Martinez said. “While it’s natural for children to be drawn to their favorite characters, it’s worth considering more affordable alternatives to avoid overspending.”
Boland pointed out that some bedding sets for babies and toddlers come with components that not only can jack up the price, but can pose safety issues. Think bumpers and pillows.
“Save money by purchasing only the essentials, like fitted crib sheets and a wearable blanket,” Boland said.
Toddler Toilet Seats
Teaching your little one how to go potty? Well, this can be an unnecessarily expensive process. Just look at toddler toilet seats. This one costs $72.
“Instead,” Boland said, “use a sturdy step stool and a regular toilet seat with a child-sized insert, which can be easily removed as your child grows.”
Trendy Infant Toys
Infants grow quickly and their interest in toys ebbs and flows almost as rapidly. Don’t get suckered into spending a ton on trendy toys — especially not for infants.
“Investing in trendy infant toys that they will outgrow in a short period can be a waste of money,” Kline said. “Instead, focus on toys that encourage sensory development and creativity.”
Unnecessary Baby Gadgets
Retailers have no shortage of gadgets targeted at infants and toddlers to supposedly make the parenting experience easier (think baby wipe warmers). But these types of items aren’t always necessary.
“Prioritize essential items like a reliable car seat, baby monitor and a safe crib,” Kline said.
Expensive Diaper Bags
“While a good-quality diaper bag is important, extravagant designer options can be exorbitantly priced,” Kline said. “Parents can find affordable, functional diaper bags that meet their needs without breaking the bank.”
Baby-Specific Cleaning Products
Yes, we all want/need our kids to be safe, but must we spend a fortune on specialized cleaning products marketed at them? Nope.
“Regular household cleaning products, used appropriately, are generally safe for infants,” Kline said. “Opting for multipurpose, non-toxic cleaning supplies saves money and space.”
Costly Educational Apps
In this increasingly digital age when it’s not completely uncommon for a toddler to have her own iPad, it’s easy to (literally) buy into the plethora of apps that are labeled “educational.”
“While educational apps have their merits, many free or reasonably priced alternatives provide similar educational value,” Kline said. “Parents can explore budget-friendly options that offer engaging and educational content for their children.”
Too Much Stuff, Period
In all, you should be discerning and cognizant of how much your kids already have when shopping for them. Chances are they already have plenty of toys and other things. Do you really need to add to the pile?
“One of the biggest wastes of money when it comes to kids is buying them too many things,” said Adam Pippington, CFO at Freedom Dividend. “When kids have too many things, they often don’t know what to do with them all and they can’t properly enjoy any of them. Instead, [buy] your child one or two high-quality items that they will really use and enjoy.”
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