[For more money-saving tips, visit the U.S. News Alpha Consumer blog.]
7. Buying too much when pregnant, before you know what your baby will like. Pregnancy is a good time to get your shopping done, because you're not yet limited by the schedule of an infant. But it's also prime time for making many shopping mistakes, since there's no way to predict the personality of your baby before he arrives. He might love rattles but hate stuffed animals, or gravitate toward a jumper but cry if you put a musical game near him. Wait until he can express his personality before stocking up on too many toys.
8. Skimping on toys. Toys are another area where it makes sense to splurge a bit. It's tempting to think you can use regular household items as toys, such as wooden spoons or an empty water bottle filled with coins as a rattle. But toys must adhere to rigorous safety standards to prevent choking and other hazards. Regular household items, on the other hand, face no such tests, so might post hidden risks. The ridges on water bottle caps, for example, can be rough enough to hurt an infants' gums if chewed on.
9. Avoiding dreary topics like writing wills and taking out life insurance. No one enjoys thinking about death, but preparing with a will and life insurance can help your family cope with tragedy. Financial planner Mark Colgan and author of The Survivor Assistance Handbook: A Guide for Financial Transition says he often sees people rush through decisions, such as selling their homes or shifting investment holdings, shortly after the death of their spouse. "Grief is so painful, they want to get it over with," he says. Preparing for various scenarios in advance can prevent such stressful decision-making.
10. Waiting too long to talk to kids about money. Money Savvy Generation, a company cofounded by former financial services professional Susan Beacham, uses a piggy bank with four compartments—save, spend, donate, and invest—to teach kids how to budget. "You're teaching them to stop, pause, and reflect, and this is the first step toward teaching them to delay gratification," she says. Having everyone in the family, including adults, draw a picture of his or her goals, from pet gerbils to European vacations, also helps kids visualize the benefits of saving, Beacham adds.
Kimberly Palmer is author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.