Five Signs You Are Overspending on Your Kids and How to Stop
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
As parents, it’s so easy to give into temptation to spend money on our kids. We want our kids to be happy and kids are very good at making us feel like if they don’t get that certain something, they’re going to be terribly unhappy. Cue the violins and the mom guilt…we’ve all been there. We justify our spending by falsely associating it with their happiness.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s something small like a candy bar at a gas station or something big like an over-the-top wedding reception. Nothing makes us happier than seeing their sweet little faces enjoying something we got them.
Giving in to those impulses to please kids can have serious financial consequences for both the parents and the kids. As parents, when you really can’t afford the things you’re buying for your kids, it’s putting your family’s financial security in jeopardy. Worse yet, you are setting your kids up for a life of debt because they can’t overcome their impulses and need for instant gratification.
So what are some signs you’re overspending on your kids and how do you stop it.
Your kid’s room looks like Toyland
If you’re guilty of buying your kid the latest and greatest toys and gadgets on the market, it’s time to start cutting back. Cutting back on the amount of toys you buy is an obvious first step, but there are other ways to help you curb the spending.
· Buy gently used toys at a fraction of the price of new
· Organize toy swaps with other parents your child’s age. Toys that grow old in your house will find new life in another.
You Throw Over-the-Top Birthday Parties
Gone are the days of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and a homemade cake. These days kids’ birthday parties have gone over the top with parents spending a week’s wages on the party alone.
Don’t feel pressured to host a Pinterest worthy celebration just to keep up with other kids. Your child’s birthday party is not competition to outdo the mom down the street.
You can still host a great party without breaking the bank. Shop for party supplies at the dollar store or in the clearance isle. Plan a party based on the birthday season; maybe a sledding party in the winter or slip and slide party in the summer. You don’t need to provide a meal; scheduling the party mid-afternoon after guests have had lunch is a great money saver.
Your Food Budget is Out of Control
When it comes to your kids, food is perhaps the area where parents most often overspend. Parents buy expensive brand-name snacks and make frequent trips through the drive-thru all in the name of getting our kids to eat. Those costly convenience foods really put a dent in your monthly finances.
Obviously, our kids need to be fed, but there are plenty of ways to trim the excess expenses from the grocery budget. The two biggest money savers I’ve found have been meal planning and ditching the name brands. Having a plan for meals and snacks saves you from impulse buying at the store and keeps you from running through the drive-thru. When planning your meals, build your week around seasonal items and always check the sales circulars to see if any of your family’s staple items are on sale.
Including your kids in meal planning is also a great money saver. Find out what they are hungry for and encourage them to try new foods. I find they are far more likely to eat a meal that was their idea.
Your Kid Has an Expensive Hobby, and doesn't even like it
Are you currently funding the next gold medalist, American Idol, pianist, and baseball player? Kids activities are EXPENSIVE and often it’s not our kids who want to be in ALL of them; it’s us.
We are so worried about ensuring our kids are “well rounded” that we forget to make sure our they are enjoying the activities. All the while forking out hundreds of dollars.
If your child is passionate about an activity, then the extra cost is likely worth it. But if you have a kid who’s involved in everything and isn’t enthusiastic about all of them; it’s time to cut back on the activities and start spending your money on something else. There’s no sense in wasting money on an activity that your kid doesn’t love, so if you’re dragging your 12-year-old son to piano lessons because you think it’ll look good on a college application… STOP.
Your KID is an ADULT w/ a full-time job – and you’re still paying their bills
Helping your grown children out financially is admirable, but it shouldn’t go on forever. This is especially true if your child can cover their own expenses. The constant outflows are a financial drain on your future and are also keeping your child from developing financial independence.
Your grown children need to know that there is no trust fund. Let them know that you, as the parent, are making real trade offs to support them. Telling your kid that they are being cut off is hard, but will be beneficial for everyone in the long run.