Those cute little faces and loud voices are hard to resist when it comes to spending. Research shows that the average parents spend over $245,000 per child from birth to their 18th birthday. Whether you will fall above or below this average largely depends on how you approach spending money on your children. Keep an eye out for these spending mistakes many parents make that can lead to financial trouble down the road because there's not enough money left in the household budget for other priorities.
It is tough to take kids into any store without the words “I want that” or the question “Can I have that?” coming out of their mouths. However, these impulse buys add up quickly. Even just a $3 purchase twice a week for a single child adds up to $312 per year! If the purchases are pricier, you will spend even more.
One of the best ways to avoid impulse purchases is to set expectations adequately before you go shopping. Tell your kids what is on your shopping list and make sure they understand that you will not be going home with anything that's not on the list.
Spending outside your means
Although you may know what you would like to be able to buy for your kids, the truth is that your financial circumstances may not make that level of spending possible. It is critical to let your budget dictate how much you can spend on your kids rather than being taken over by your ideals or what your friends and neighbors are doing. Before making any purchase for your kids, ask yourself if it is something you can actually afford.
Buying expensive brands
Whether you are looking at food, clothing or toys, the prices on name brands are often going to be double what you would pay for the generic alternative. However, these companies do everything they can to push their products on you and your kids. You'll find your kids asking for all sorts of brand name products that they hear about outside of your earshot.
The truth is that your kids do not need the name brand products. Make a habit of buying generic whenever you can to save money while getting basically the same thing. Generic cereals are often just as tasty, and if your kids are not convinced, try having them do a taste test and guess which one is the name brand. Buying off-brand clothes can also save you tons of money.
Overspending on special items
Even if you are good at keeping spending under control on a day-to-day basis, special items can still trip you up. Because of their higher overall price tags, what feels like a small upgrade can amount to hundreds or even thousands, of dollars. Therefore, shop carefully on those big special items, which include computers, cars, and birthday and Christmas gifts. Discuss your budget in detail with your kids before spending on even larger expenses like college tuition or a wedding.