The average American family pays over $11,000 just in the first year1 of a child's life, and nearly $250,000 by the time they're 18.2 And while most of the incurred expenses prove worthwhile, not every toy, class, or experience warrants its price tag.
Business Insider asked parents with children of all ages to weigh in on the financial side of having kids. While they concluded that several expenses are well worth the money, myriad others proved unworthy of the cost, from trendy gadgets to designer clothing.
Not every parent went into their reasoning, but every family is different, and it makes sense that every expense would be valued differently, too.
Below, we've anonymously included 13 things they say aren't worth spending on:
Too much/too nice clothing
- "For older kids, I would say clothes. Kids can be picky about their clothes and will end up wearing the same 5 shirts over and over anyway. So just get clothes they like and will wear and replace as needed. And I always accept hand-me-downs."
- "Fancy clothes when they were young. They outgrew them too quickly."
- Trendy toys
- "Any electronic gadgets for kids less than 13."
- Going overboard on Christmas
- Over-the-top birthday parties
Expensive vacations with young kids
"It's not worth it to do 'big vacations' when they are younger; they just forget. It's been more worth it to do things like visit major cities or travel across Canada now that my son is old enough to appreciate it and learn from it."
New baby gear
- Anything other than the basics. "A lot of the new-baby junk. You really just need the stuff to keep baby clean and warm, a safe place for baby to sleep, and formula or milk for the baby. That's it. Everything else can be helpful and convenient, but that might depend on your baby. My first baby hated her infant swing, for instance, but her younger brother loves it."
- Specialty toys. "I found that many of the 'must-haves,' like special toys, when they are babies, aren't worth the money. There are so many things you could spend money on."
- Wipes warmer. "As you get your child accustomed to warm wipes, what happens when you're on the go? It's just not a recipe for success on an area of the body that needs a lot of attention."
- Electric bouncer
- Anything poor quality, including novelty bed frames, mattresses, or cheap bottles
Upgrading to a too-large house
"We over-bought on our house upgrade. We now have a 6-bedroom, 5-bathroom with extra spaces such as a play room, loft area, office, craft room, and a finished basement. We have all the spaces we need, but now the budget is so tight it's difficult to furnish and do things like taking nice trips."
1. "USDA Cost of Raising a Child Calculator", United States Department of Agriculture. https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/tools/CRC_Calculator/default.aspx
2. "How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?", The Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2016. https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/06/22/how-much-does-it-cost-to-raise-a-child/
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