In this age of immediacy, many parents have fallen victim to adage of “more is better.” According to T. Rowe Price’s 2016 Parents, Kids & Money Survey, which sampled 1,086 8 to 14 year-old children and their parents nationally, “nearly half of parents (46%) have gone into debt to cover something their kids wanted, and many say they spend too much on things their kids do not need (57%).” Amazingly, “58% most worry about spoiling their kids” yet still participate in unhealthy spending habits. The survey also stated that, “57% of kids have come to expect their parents to buy them what they want”.
Do you find yourself resonating with the results of this survey? If so, how do you break this cycle of overspending on your children? Here are five tips to help you combat the “more is better” mentality.
1. Avoid the non-essentials
Don’t go into debt to purchase something your child “wants” versus “needs.” Provide context to your children about the reasons why you can’t buy something they want and explain the thought process of your financial decisions.
2. Keep a close eye on your kids’ money and spending
Have some oversight on what your children are spending their money on, including money given to them as gifts. Talk with your kids about the difference between a “want” and a “need” and the importance of them saving for their future. Remind your kids of what they are saving up for.
3. Make allowances affordable, and age/task-specific
Giving your child an age/task specific allowance for chores will help your them make the connection between pay and work. According to New York City financial planner John Henry Low, assigning a dollar amount to a task or chore will “teach your child that money is an exchange.”
4. Do away with lavish birthday parties
The cost isn’t worth jeopardizing your family’s financial wellness. Consider planning a family activity with your child for his/her birthday versus a lavish birthday party. There are plenty of activities you can do that have a minimal cost, that will create memories equal to an overwhelming party.
5. Take advantage of teachable moments. Be open with your kids and discuss your family’s finances.
T. Rowe Price encourages parents to invest in their kids’ futures by talking to them about money matters weekly. According to their survey, “68% of parents who discuss financial topics with their kids at least once a week are nearly twice as likely to have kids who say they are smart about money.” The time you invest in money conversations will have a greater impact on your kids than any gift or toy you purchase for them.