NEW YORK (LearnVest) -- Moms are renowned for their nurturing. For their kindness. For their practicality. Some are renowned for their chops at managing their family’s finances.
But no matter how awesome we are, we’re still human. And sometimes we even run out of time to think about how we handle our money.
That’s why we’ve compiled the top ten mom money mistakes you might be making. Instead of soul-searching for what you could be doing better, go ahead and nip these mistakes in the bud, then accept the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re doing things right.
Letting Mompetition Get You Down
Even when they’re just proud of their children and the lives they’ve built, moms can often come off as competitive, trying to make sure you know their kids are successful and their lives are the best. Although feelings of jealousy and competition are perfectly normal, don’t let those emotions bring down your finances.
If another mom brags about the nice things she buys for her children, or the expensive summer camp or private school she sends them to, say, "That must be nice!" and then change the conversation. You should make your choices because you want to and they're what's right for your family—not because someone else has pressured you into them.
Going Overboard for Birthday Parties
Birthday parties can also quickly become a competition between families, and a point of pressure from kids whose friends are having elaborate birthdays. That’s called “party creep,” a phenomenon in which birthday parties seem to spin more and more out of control. We’ve even heard of kids’ parties that give away American Girl dolls as party favors! (For a little gawk factor, check out these seven ridiculous birthday parties.)
Don’t become a victim of peer (or child) pressure. Learn what you need to know about kid birthday party etiquette, and then make your own special mark on your child’s birthday party with creative, but inexpensive, ideas. Here are some birthday party themes to get you started—all for under $7 per guest—and cute DIY birthday cake ideas.
Skipping Life Insurance
As a mom, you simply can’t go without life insurance. Although it’s never pleasant to think about worst case scenarios, life insurance will protect your family should something happen to you. It will ensure that your loved ones have enough money to maintain their lifestyle, pay off any debts you leave behind and more. We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about life insurance.
Being Too Nice
We all want our children to be happy, but spoiling our kids doesn't do them, or us, any good. Between temper tantrums and children who grow up expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter, our attempts to give our kids everything they want can actually be doing more harm than good.
Check out our signs that your kid is spoiled, and what to do about it.
Getting Allowance Wrong
Allowance is a great tool to teach your children financial responsibility, but only if you do it right. In our LV Moms’ Money Mic series, we spoke to one expert who thinks most allowance systems do more harm than good. Read his essay for why, and check out our interview with an allowance expert, who explained how to do allowance right.
Taking the Kids Grocery Shopping
Research studies have shown that bringing your kids along to the grocery store can actually make you spend more because kids are great at wheedling us into buying things that weren’t on the grocery list … and those things tend to be unhealthy, at that. Fruit Loops and Spongebob macaroni, anyone?
Not Saving for Retirement (but Giving Money to Your Kids for College)
Although it’s tempting to feel guilty about saving for yourself rather than, say, socking away money for your child’s college fund, remember: You can always take out student loans, but there’s no such thing as a retirement loan!
Saving for retirement can feel daunting, especially since experts recommend that you plan to live on 75% of your pre-retirement income for each of your golden years. In other words, if your family used to bring in $100,000, you should plan to live on $75,000 each year of retirement. That’s a lot of money!
But, saving even a little now can go a long way. Putting in the maximum Roth IRA contribution ($5,000) every year from age 35 to 65 could leave you with almost $500,000 by the time you hit retirement! We calculated that with an expected 7% rate of return, which is the historical stock market average.
Not Following Your Heart
Studies have shown that mothers who do the opposite of what they really want to do when it comes to working (as in, moms who stay home even though they’d really rather return to work, or moms who have to work even though they’d rather stay home with the kids) have significantly higher rates of depression. Although many people don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs to be stay-at-home moms, we’ve come up with suggestions to help you make the most of your work-life situation, whatever it is.
Buying Very “Male” or “Female” Clothing
Let’s be honest: A sweatshirt is a sweatshirt. Especially for children under a certain age, it’s pretty easy for boys and girls to share clothes like winter coats or pajama pants, which is a big money saver if it means extra mileage out of hand-me-downs from older siblings.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t have fun dressing up your children in flowery dresses or Spiderman outfits from time to time, but when it comes to items that could easily be recycled for future children, like nursery decorations, strollers, raincoats and sneakers, consider neutral colors like yellow and navy.
Avoiding Talk of Money With Kids
One of the most important things you can do for your children is teach them how to be responsible with their money, to build skills for their adult future. And, being LearnVest, we can help you out with that. First and foremost: We’ve created a timeline with the money milestones your kids should reach at each age. And then we’ve got you covered with more ways to teach your kids about credit. We’ve even found you a hot new website to help you teach your kids money skills.
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--Allison Kade is the deputy editor at LearnVest.