5. Saving for retirement always trumps saving for college
Why: You can borrow for college -- but not for retirement. It might go against your protective parenting instinct, but worrying about how to pay for your child's college education before you and your husband have a solid retirement plan means you need to reorder your priorities, says Helga Cuthbert, a certified financial planner in Decatur, Georgia, and the mom of one.
What to do: If you and your partner both work, you should aim to save 15 percent of your before-tax incomes in your workplace retirement plans (especially if the companies offer matching funds) or in a Roth IRA or personal IRA account, says Cuthbert.
If that sounds like a lot of money, don't panic. Start with a smaller percentage and bump up your contributions when you get bonuses or raises. If you're a stay-at-home mom, you can also open a spousal IRA and contribute up to $4,000 a year to it. This account is a great way to increase your family's tax-advantaged savings.
Start the college account once you're on track toward retirement and have paid off personal debts. Feel like the college fund won't happen in this lifetime? "Remember that once your kids are ready to go to college, you'll be in your prime earning years and better able to afford it," says Cuthbert. "Plus, if one of you has been staying home, you can go back to work to earn even more. You'll have lots of options for paying for college."
Teri Cettina, a mom of two, admits that most of her "mine" money goes for coffee and haircuts.