10 Ways to Screw Up Your First Child (Financially)

We all know there are plenty of non-money missteps you could, and will, make with your children. But here is a short, and at times lighthearted, list of ways you could totally bomb financially with your first little one.

Some of these are personal experience, some are the experience of friends and family, and others are just good common sense.

  1. Buy first, consider later. Who can expect you to have the time to do research or think about a purchase on 4 hours of sleep? Just buy it now and worry about how you’ll use that new stroller or mobile later.
  2. Buy for the moment. The first hard lesson in financial parenting is that no stage lasts very long. 6-month clothes only work for so long. That brand new toy is only interesting today, and maybe tomorrow.
  3. Leave college savings for “later.” We’re so focused on retirement that we forget college is only 18 years away, much shorter than most people’s retirement timeline.
  4. Get suckered into “cute.” Cute has a premium, and it’s rarely something that the little one actually appreciates. Cute is for parents who like cute. Don’t we all, though?
  5. Be impatient with gifts. Never mind that you’ll probably get hundreds of clothes and toys at next week’s baby shower. You just have to have this outfit today!
  6. Get predictable needs in a panic. Babies aren’t really rocket science—with a little research you can figure out what you’ll need and when. But that’s okay, because procrastinating and paying more for urgency is so much fun.
  7. Don’t plan out paying for maternity or birth costs. It’s okay, hospitals will deliver my baby for free, right? When the time comes to face the bills, I’ll deal with it then.
  8. Buy an SUV to “prepare” for a baby. And then realize that you may not have needed it after all.
  9. Think that your plan is foolproof. Unexpected expenses are only for people who haven’t prepared hard enough. There’s no need to worry about something popping up.
  10. Focus on new things. Instead of looking for good-quality hand-me-downs and community resources, buy up everything you can at your local Target or baby store. It’s got that “new-stuff” smell.

What’s your favorite way to completely fail with your children financially? What lessons can we learn from our missteps? 😉

Photo by *clairity*

10 thoughts on “10 Ways to Screw Up Your First Child (Financially)

    1. I hear this a lot from my own family–“grandparents are supposed to spoil your kids.” Is this a recent invention or around for a while, I wonder. Are we just deferring blame where it’s tougher to hold someone accountable because they don’t live with you? Hmmm… 😉

  1. Teach your kids to “ask and it shall be given.” Don’t give them an allowance. And above all, never tell them, “No, I’m not buying that.” Learning to budget, save, or do without – these are skills no self-respecting American ever needs to learn in a gotta-have-it-now, instant-credit-approval world.

  2. We’re expecting our first child, and I’ve been doing a lot of research on how we should be preparing financially. I’ll just say that getting an SUV for a baby isn’t on our list. And I most definitely am not looking forward to the hospital bill after the birth!

    1. Congrats on your first! I definitely recommend health insurance whenever possible for new parents since it almost always pays itself off. (I say almost because a lot of the independent insurance maternity plans you see these days have some ridiculous prices).

  3. Praise every single thing they do, even if the effort was half-assed.
    Don’t ever let them fail.
    Don’t expect them to work, let alone work and save for college.
    Allow them to borrow tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loans, instead of encouraging them to choose an affordable school and work while they’re attending.
    Bail them out constantly, starting from the time they spent all their lunch money on Pokemon cards. Keep bailing them out, because no one could be expected to live on an entry-level salary and still have a good life.

    1. “Praise every single thing they do, even if the effort was half-assed.”
      I love this–we’re such a “You’re #1” culture! I never got that as a kid and turned out alright. 😉 The praise line is a really fine one–what’s your standard for giving out praise?

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