Your kids are wonderful – the best in the world – and the deserve the best. There is no arguing that. When you’re living on a budget, though, the best and most financially-friendly don’t always go together, especially when it’s something they’ll only use for certain occasions or that will have a newer, better version out soon. Here are some big-ticket items you can afford to skip.
A new computer, tablet, gaming system, or something similar will inevitably make birthday and holiday gift lists, but getting them the newest version of the coolest thing just isn’t necessary. If you are really committed to getting your child tech for school or personal use, try going back a generation. In most cases, the device functionality will be the same, especially for kids’ purposes. If it’s something like a gaming system that really does require a new version to play certain games, don’t purchase right at release. Give it some time and let the price go down, or buy refurbished to net some serious savings.
Kids are constantly growing and perpetually messy. You might think that adorable outfit at the boutique is just what your baby needs on their first day of school, but your kid will emphatically not care that you spent hundreds of dollars on that outfit when they get a chance to start running around in the dirt and grass with their new classmates. More importantly, they won’t be able to control it when they grow out of it in six months.
Count this separate from new tech, because the issue here isn’t really about getting them the newest device as much as it is getting them any device at all. Smartphones come with not only the hefty price tag of the phone itself, but also talk, text, and data plans. Argument about whether your kid needs a phone for safety and emergencies aside, why would an elementary school aged child need a data plan at all? Also, considering how easy it is for you to break your phone, how much easier is it going to be for a playful kid? If you really want your kid to have a cellphone, go with a basic phone or one that is meant especially for kids. Leave the iPhone behind, at least until they’re old enough to handle it responsibly.
Buying a pet because your family wants one and is collectively prepared for it is one thing. Committing to the life of a creature just because your kid wants one is another. When everything is totaled at the end of the day, pets don’t come cheap. Pet cost or adoption fees, vet bills, food, any habitat requirements the animal may have, and other expenses will pile up, and more often than not you’re the one who will be caring for the creature most of the time. If you want a pet, by all means go for it. But if it’s just your kid eyeing that puppy in the window, maybe move along.
One of those nice wooden swing sets can cost several thousand dollars, and it’s something the kids are going to outgrow fast, both physically and in terms of interest. Taking your kids to the park to play is free in most cases, and will get them access to better equipment and more people with whom they can play. If a good park isn’t an option due to location, see if you can source a swing set second-hand online.