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Spending Too Much on Your Kids?

parents at store

Every parent knows that raising a child can be expensive, from the cost food and housing to education and health care, and many other costs in between. With a price tag of somewhere between $12,000-$14,000, raising a child eats up a huge portion of a family budget. And if you throw in extras such as summer camps and private schooling, the amount spent on kids each year can feel insurmountable.

But when does spending cross the line and become excessive? At what point do parents do their children a disservice by gifting them expensive things such as phones, cars, and video game systems? Parents who demonstrate unlimited spending not only teach their children poor spending habits but break their own banks. In the end, kids may not be prepared for the disappointments and challenges of the "real world". And children may also learn careless spending from their parents and continue that legacy.

Below are some indicators that you may be spending too much on extras! Do you fit any of the scenarios? If so, you may want to think twice before spending  extra money on your child.

You buy expensive brands.

Advertising is a powerful force in our culture, and peer pressure can do a number on kids. Between the two, kids will push to buy more expensive brands either because they see it in advertising or "all the kids have it".

The Fix: Start when your kids are young, and don't give in! Buy off brands, second hand and turn off the television!

Your child's room looks like a collage of television toy commercials.

Once again, advertising is loud, colorful, inviting and fun. An innocent children's show can quickly turn into a flashy and fun ad for the coolest toy ever.

The Fix: Watch less television! Also, start a ritual at a young age allowing your child to pick one special toy for a birthday or holiday. And encourage others to gift items that are not on the wish list. Get your child used to appreciating different types of items from books to old fashioned wooden toys to second hand toys. Also, work together to donate old toys to kids in need. It's a wonderful tradition to share the gift of giving!

You give in impulsively at the store.

A child's whining and fussing can be incredibly challenging when you have a full shopping cart and are almost ready to check out! That's when parents give in to that whiny request for a toy or snack. Tired and stressed parents also give in.

The Fix: Stay strong! Shop when you have the energy to say "no," and be ready to leave the store at any moment if that "no" isn't well received!

You give extravagant birthday parties.

Parents these days can spend $400 and up on lavish parties involving extreme entertainment, activities and lots of kids! And once you start the trend, it's difficult to stop because kids learn to expect all the bells and whistles.

The Fix: Start when your kids are young with simple, easy parties. Keep parties small enough to host at the house, inviting one or two kids when children are young and setting firm limits as they get older.

Your child is involved in too many activities and doesn't enjoy them all.

Many activities not only require money to participate, but parents find that they are spending lots of money driving kids to and from events and activities. And some sports require equipment that is expensive and used for a short time. In this competitive and busy world, kids are often involved in way too many activities and inevitably don't enjoy them all.

The Fix: Teach children moderation and how to occasionally cope with boredom. If a child has a passion, by all means check it out and explore. But focus on one interest at a time instead of overwhelming your child with the pressures of school and too many activities. Just say no, even if they whine! And learning how to be bored is a valuable life skill!