When Kids Drain Your Wallet
There’s an old joke that a parent is someone who now carries photos of their children in their wallet where money used to be. If you’re chuckling and nodding your head right now, this article is for you.
Before you became a parent, you were probably aware of and prepared for the major expenses related to kids, such as the cost of daycare, doctor bills, and an extra room in your home. But that’s not what drains your wallet. No, dear mom or dad, it’s the everyday needs and desires that wear you down.
Kids outgrow clothes. Toys need to be replaced whenever your children advance to a higher development level. New movies are released in theaters each week, while previous movies come out on Blu-ray (the less expensive regular DVDs are so yesterday). Attractive food packaging is placed at your kids’ eye level in grocery stores. Commercials aren’t just on TV anymore; they’re on the Internet now, too. Teachers send home lists of needed school supplies each September; later in the academic year you’ll be expected to buy portrait sets, student accident insurance, tickets to school performances, and various fundraising items that you have no need for.
Keeping up with daily money demands was hard enough when our economy was healthy. Now that so many of us are either unemployed or underemployed, the squeeze is even tougher. What’s a parent to do?
Shop Thrift Stores
Gather up the kids and drive to your nearest thrift store. Even if your town doesn’t have a Goodwill or Salvation Army retail place, there’s a chance that a local church or nonprofit organization does sponsor one. Because kids do outgrow clothes, shoes, boots, coats, and toys so quickly, the shelves and racks of thrift stores are packed with high quality items that other parents donated when their kids had no more use for them. Enter the store with $20 in your pocket and leave with bags full of stuff your kids need or want… for now, at least.
Wait a Few Weeks
Another survival strategy is simply wait a few weeks when your children ask you to buy them the latest entertainment whatever. Often, with the passage of time, their desire will wane and/or be replaced with a desire for the next newest thing. If your child’s birthday or Christmas is coming up in the next few months, simply write a list of what’s wanted and then revisit the list with your child when the gift-giving occasion is closer. There’s even a chance that your son or daughter will have forgotten certain items that they asked for!
Share the Cost
As your children become tweens and teens, you can introduce the concept of sharing the cost. Set up a plan for your children to earn part or all of the cost of what they want to buy. If they aren’t willing to do chores, work harder to get better grades at school, or get a part-time job in exchange for sharing the cost of their desired item, then it’s not as important to them as they thought. And if they are willing to work for it, then you’ve just helped them learn a great lesson about responsibility and personal finances.
Strike a Balance
Sometimes you just have to say, “No, I’m sorry, we can’t afford that.” If there is a less expensive alternative to what your child wants, you can offer that instead. Or simply offer to spend time together doing something free or making your own whatever they wanted you to buy. The important message to get across to your kids is that your love for them is not measured in dollars. When you can afford to buy something for them, you will. And when you can’t, you won’t. But your love for them is something you always have in abundance and are willing to “spend” on them daily.
“The economy has affected everyone.” – Lucy ext. 5353
“Know that within your spiritual core you deserve abundance. Stay away from people who say otherwise. Take real action to make your goals happen. If you’re thinking about, but not taking steps in the direction of abundance, you’ll usually end up disappointed.” – William ext. 5131
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