14 Ways Parents Waste Money on Kids
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14 Ways Parents Waste Money on Kids

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14 Ways Parents Waste Money on Kids
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No Kidding

Kids are expensive, despite some free meal deals and cheap family restaurants. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 17 is $233,610 for food, shelter and basic necessities. There are a lot of things parents are tempted to buy for kids, and a lot of it is a waste of money in the long run. Here's a look at how parents waste money on kids when they could be saving more money for retirement or their kids' college education.

Related: Why I'm Glad My Kids Are 6 Years Apart

Baby Gear
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Baby Gear

Forget new gear for each baby. Hand down what you used for baby one to baby two. If it's your first go around, shop consignment stores. As long as it's safe and up to code, you can easily find a used stroller, crib, carrier, pack n' play, highchair, and other items for less than new versions.

Brand-Name Clothes
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Brand-Name Clothes

Instead of ordering those brand-new, brand-name boots for your daughter or son this year, hit up a big box retailer, a garage sale, or a second-hand store. You'll likely find something equally cute, or you might even hit the jackpot and find brand names for a fraction of the price. Ditto on all the brand-name athletic clothes. Remember, there is no shame in passing down clothes from child to child or accepting hand-me-downs.

Make the logo smaller?
Make the logo smaller? by Slack Barshinger (CC BY-NC-ND)
Bikes
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Bikes

What kid doesn't love a new bike from Santa? But the truth is that just as quickly as kids outgrow clothes, they outgrow bikes, roller skates, skateboards, and the like. Buying those things new is a surefire way to waste money on your kids. Instead, look at local consignment shops, or find a bike at a local garage sale and clean it up. Your kid won't know the difference.

Related: Buy These 24 Things Secondhand to Save Big

Electronics, Apps and Video Games
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Electronics, Apps and Video Games

Electronics and technology are a way of life for the up-and-coming generations, and they're not going away (even if you wish they would). While some technology is great and can actually help with learning, proceed with caution. Apps that might start off as free almost always have a paid version plus add-ons within the app. Video games can also cost a lot and your child will either want the next best thing in a week or will tire of the game faster than you can blink. Solution: if your child wants apps and video games, have them use their own money to buy them.

Related: 18 Ways to Distract Your Kids From Technology

Impulse Buys
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Impulse Buys

Have you ever taken a kid into Target and left wondering how you spent over $100? Those little accessories and toys that your kid begs for in every aisle really do add up. Just say no or better yet, hit up those stores without the kiddos in tow.

Birthday Parties
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Birthday Parties

Your three-year-old doesn't need an extravaganza for every birthday. One celebration, cake, and a small gift will suffice. There's also need to schedule multiple parties, such as one at school, one with each side of the family, and a friends-only party. Also, skip the party favors (or at least buy them cheaply). They are usually junk that the kids don't really care about anyway.

Family Passes
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Family Passes

In theory, it sounds like a great idea to have a family pass to the local zoo or the nearest theme park, but be realistic about how often you can make an outing happen. A good rule of thumb is that if you really think you'll visit at least once a month, then go for it. Otherwise, pass on the family pass.

Related: 19 Expensive Mistakes to Avoid at Disney

Pets
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Pets

The family dog is one thing, but a hamster, a fish, a snake, and all the other little critters your kids decide they must have can start off as being cheap pets but just end up as money pits. A hamster requires a cage, cedar shavings, food, toys, and more, but will it live long enough to enjoy all its amenities? Even if it does, your kids could lose interest within weeks — leaving you stuck to take care of it and provide for it.

Eating Out
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Eating Out

Eating out with kids is not typically fun. Kids rarely behave in restaurant settings, and you'll spend a small fortune for food they will barely touch. Eating out as a family, as nice as it may sound in theory, just isn't worth it. Stay home, cook what you know your kids will eat, and reserve eating out for date nights without the kids. And if you are going to eat out with the kids, consider opting for restaurants where kids eat free.

Backyard Entertainment
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Backyard Entertainment

Are your kids begging for a backyard pool, a trampoline, or a basketball hoop? In some cases these purchases make sense, but you need to make sure they are truly worth the investment. Is basketball a passing hobby? Will the trampoline cause your home insurance to skyrocket and hardly get used? Will that pool be forgotten as soon as your kids decide the local swimming hole is more fun? These are just a few considerations to think about when contemplating a major purchase that could turn into a lot of wasted money.

Related: 20 Reasons Not to Put in a Backyard Pool

Brand-Name Schools
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Brand-Name Schools

College is a great investment in your child's future, but the price tag shouldn't cripple your retirement or your child's future financial health (and in some cases can be cheap or even free). Figure out what you can comfortably contribute and tell your child what the limits are. If your child still desires a brand-name school, make it clear that they will be responsible for the difference. It's fair to also help your child pick schools that line up with their future goals and not just pick schools based on the name recognition.

Related: Student Loan Debt Across America: Where Does Your State Rank?

Extravagant Weddings
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Extravagant Weddings

According to the 2019 Worldwide Global Wedding Report, it costs an average of $29,200 to get married in the United States. That figure doesn't even cover the cost of a honeymoon. A wedding can be done on a much smaller budget. It's important for you to figure out what you can comfortably contribute and be candid about it with your child. If they want to spend beyond that, it will be their financial responsibility.

Keeping Up With the Joneses
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Keeping Up With the Joneses

Learn to let go of competitive parenting by not striving to have your kids be the best dressed on the playground or have the best electronics. Your child will learn to care less about what others have if you aren't similarly swayed. While it can be humbling, it is also freeing financially and a great way to teach your kids about money.