3 Money Mistakes I Made With My First Child That I Won't Repeat

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  • Becoming a parent changes your financial life.
  • I made some mistakes when preparing financially for my son.
  • Budgeting more for clothes and less for activities are some of the changes I'll be making when my second child is born.

Figuring out the finances of new parenting is hard, but learning from my mistakes is possible.

When I had my first child in September 2019, I thought I had made all the right financial moves. I'd saved up money in case I wanted to take time off work. I had made plans for paying for childcare if I needed it. I'd also bulked up my emergency fund so I wouldn't have to put unexpected expenses on a credit card.

Despite my careful plans, though, there were three money mistakes I made with my son that I'll be correcting when I have my daughter in March of this year. Here's what they are.

1. Budgeting too little for clothing

When my son was born, I had a few onesies, a few sleepers, and one or two "going-out" outfits for him. I naively assumed he'd wear the same outfit all day, so we were good with about 10 or 11 total outfits even if we only had time to do laundry once a week.

I learned quite quickly that newborns are high maintenance in terms of outfit changes, whether because of spit-up or worse. We ended up spending a ton of money to quickly fill out my son's wardrobe. With my daughter, we have a much larger clothing budget and are prepared and ready even if she needs five or six daily outfit changes like my son did.

2. Spending too much on activities

I signed my son up for many different activities early on in his life, from music class to baby swim lessons. Some of these activities worked out better than others, but it was expensive and tiring to drag him around town to do all of these things. And he often preferred to go to a playground and be pushed around in a swing or float around in a raft in our backyard pool.

With my daughter, I'm keeping things simpler. She'll get her socialization from free events held by the local mom's group I'm a part of, and we'll keep our activity budget much smaller by not overscheduling.

3. Buying a bunch of items before I knew what he liked

Finally, my last mistake was stocking up on baby gear based on what was recommended online for new parents. This included a deluxe stroller that he sat in all of twice because he screamed his head off every time he went into it (he preferred the sling, and at 28 months old still hates to be contained in any other type of apparatus). I also bought unnecessary bouncers, which he was never a fan of since he preferred to lay on a blanket and kick.

With my daughter, I'm refraining from buying lots of baby gear until I get to know her personality and see what she actually enjoys. Avoiding all the gear will leave my house less cluttered and has saved me quite a bit of money already.

Ultimately, I've realized that while it's important to have a financial plan, babies are unpredictable. It's best not to spend much of the money budgeted for them until you develop an understanding of what is really needed. I'll be applying these lessons and hopefully end up using my dollars more wisely this time around.

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