5 Ways to Save Money for Your Baby's Future
When you spend impulsively on what you think Baby wants, you're probably squandering away money for what she truly does need—like an education. Here are five common scenarios new parents may find themselves in...
Scenario: At the toy store you are assaulted by the vast array of toys. You buy an educational doll, bring it home, and start moving it in front of your baby. She starts playing with the box it came and giggling. You go back to the toy store the next day and buy the piano that goes with the doll. While you play a few notes on it, Baby now notices the doll you bought yesterday and is playing with it. So what’s the bottom line on toys?
Bottom Line on Toys
Babies are curious—with or without toys. They’re going to investigate the world and discover things at their own pace and according to their own instincts. Your baby is not going to end up a dimwit just because he doesn’t have the top dozen new toys on the market. His favorite thing to look at? Your face. His favorite things to play with? The fascinating variety of household items he sees you using every day. And he detects no difference between stylishly packaged flashcards and a picture drawn by you on a piece of paper.
Scenario: You go into a bookstore to buy a cookbook. On the way to the cooking section, you notice a couple of adorable infant books that you know your baby would love. You buy both. When you get home, you read them to your baby, who immediately demonstrates that she finds them perfect for playing drop-it-and-see-how-many-times-mommy-will-pick-it-up. So what’s the bottom line on books?
Bottom Line on Books
Become a regular visitor to your local library. Discover the wonderful assortment of children’s books both old and new. Your baby doesn’t care whether the book is pristine or dog-eared. She just cares that you’re reading to her.
3. Mom-and-Me Programs
Scenario: You enroll in a weekly parent-and-baby music program. You find you don’t have that much in common with the other moms, the songs are kind of lame, and the program leaders aren’t really that into it. But what the heck, it was only $30 and occupies Baby once a week. So what’s the bottom line on mom-and-me programs?
Bottom Line on Mom-and-Me Programs
A single program might be inexpensive, but that kind of thinking often leads to enrolling in multiple programs, and a bunch of relatively small costs on a credit card statement have a way of suddenly presenting themselves as collectively sizeable.
Start your own entertainment schedule with Baby. Every Monday from 3 to 4 PM, you do music together. Every Thursday from 9 to 10 AM it’s mom-and-baby exercise time. And so on. Invite your friends with babies to join in the fun.
Scenario: Your favorite children’s clothing store is having a sale on select brand-name items. Even though you realize that a discount on most labels at this store still amounts to a higher price tag than comparable items at a discount store, you buy a few things and drop more than $100, not to mention applying for a credit card. So what’s the bottom line on clothes?
Bottom Line on Clothes
When making decisions about where to purchase baby clothes, think about the final price of a certain item, not how much discount you’re getting off the original price. If the name-brand store is selling a $50 dress for 20 percent off, that dress is still more expensive than the same or similar one at a discount store being sold for $35. Plus, few people beyond the staff at Vogue are going to be able to spot the differences in infant’s clothing between one store and another.
5. Impulse Purchases
Scenario: Waiting in line at the Target checkout after buying yourself a much-needed new bra, you notice a pair of sunglasses that would look indescribably cute on your baby. They’re not even $5, so you toss them in. So what’s the bottom line on impulse purchases?
Bottom Line on Impulse Purchases
Does your baby really need those sunglasses?
The Real Bottom Line
There are two points to all of this. First, just as spending an extra few dollars here and there can amount to a major expense without your noticing it, saving a few extra dollars here and there can also build toward a significant final number. That, you will notice.
Second, the purpose of learning how to save isn’t just for the pleasure of it—although it does feel great to know you’re spending smartly instead of blindly. Every dollar you save is a dollar that can be put toward what really matters in the big picture: your child’s future, in the form of education plans.
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