Does your baby really need that? - MoneySense

Does your baby really need that?

When a child enters the picture, some parents seem to forget about saving money


When I was shooting the “Baby” episodes of Til Debt Do Us Part last year, I came across some pretty wasteful spending. People have babies and go nuts on the things they think they “need.” A diaper wipe warmer? Really? How about a $50-diaper disposal system for every floor of the house? When my kids were caterpillars, we put it in the garbage and took the garbage out.

From furniture to food, parents spend way more than they need to on their babies. And if you aren’t saving for the future — or worse, you’re in debt — you need to look for ways to save, not blow money on dumb crap.

To deal with your “startup costs,” make a list of all the things you think you want. You can include everything on this list because at the next step you’re gonna see what everything costs.

Next, shop your list online and price out what each item will cost. If you think you’ll need 3 sets of bedding, price it out per set, and then multiply by 3 to get what you anticipate paying. That way, if you decide to cut back on one set, you’ll have your per set cost to work with.

Then add it all up. Take a breath. Do you have the money to pay for all that stuff? And is that the best use of your money? (If you don’t have an emergency fund, a supplemental fund for when mommy and daddy are on mat leave, and some money in your long-term savings, you’re spending too much on stuff.)

Need to trim?

Go back over your list with a highlighter and identify all the must-haves. Do you have to buy them all yourself or can you count on hand-me-downs or gifts for some of this stuff? Make sure you know who is giving you what (or have your baby shower early) so you see exactly where you stand.

If you’re on your own, can you buy any of these items second-hand? New will be important for things like car seats, but furniture is something you can save on big-time if buy it used.

If you add up all your must-haves and still have some money left over, you can hit your nice-to-have’s list (all the stuff that’s not highlighted.) Since you can’t have it all, you’ll have to decide which will give you the most return in terms of pleasure and time-savings. You might decide one fancy set of bedding and a couple replacement bottom sheets is more than enough.