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Too much spending on children, reader needs help

Last post Tue, Nov 24 2009 6:35 AM by MarkHarper314. 14 replies.
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  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 1:02 PM

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    She writes:  

    Buying things for my children (ages 7 & 12) tends to trip me up, such as toys (like American Girl doll stuff and Wii gaming!)  As well as all of their activities!  (Violin/symphony orchestra, ice skating, fencing, swimming, karate and homeschool art class.)  It’s a huge lack of balance in our family spending pie chart!  My husband and I do without, shop and sell resale, stick to bare bones grocery with me scratch cooking a lot and making my own laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, we are do-it-yourselfers and spend little on restaurants and entertainment…any other extras.  We save for retirement, college, tithe, emergency fund, car repair and a house maintenance account and property tax fund.  I manage to pay off the charge cards every month, but I am spending a HUGE portion still on gifts/children.  HELP!  I have been told as an adopted child myself that studies show we overindulge our children to excess!  My stepchildren who no longer reside with us are also supported –on the 22 year old daughter we have paid off her car at 12,000!, covered her car insurance and cell phone for a long time, paid a great deal of her college and make payments or her personal remaining college debt as main birthday/Christmas gift - as debt free lifestyle is important to my husband.   On 23 year old married daughter, we are also giving $200 a month for her credit card (lawyer/child custody debt) since she and her hubby recently had a new baby together, adding to her family of her little stepdaughter also. This is concerning me as my husband is approaching retirement from the military with a reduction in pay and an unstable job situation.

    Do you have advice for her?

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  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 1:13 PM In reply to

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

     I would start by cutting out some of those extra activities.  Four sports really are not needed.  Have them pick their favorite.  I would also look at the doll and wii spending.  I would limit doll stuff to b'day/christmas and possibly the wii also.

    You teach people how to treat you -- Dr Phil
  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 2:15 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    I see some key words in this...lack of balance, do without, bare bones grocery and overindulgence.

    How we raise our children is how they often learn to live. If we want them to enjoy balanced adult lives then we must set the foundation for them. Overindulging our children does not teach them to be self-sufficient, self reliant and money wise adults. It does teach them to give in to their wants and may cause them to rely more on us or others.



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  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 2:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    I agree with the others of limiting activities to just a couple per child or maybe even just their favorite.  In regards to adult children, I would cut out the payments starting now.  It may be a goal of her DH's to live a debt free lifestyle.  It does not seem that it is a goal of that childs.

    In addition if money is needed, then a part time job may be needed to make the obligations of the custody.  Yes, even if that part time job is on top of a full time job.  The kids aren't going to take on the responsibility if Mom and Dad are able and willing to pay for them.  While the parents may feel that it's hard to watch people struggle, they are depriving the adult kids of a very valuable and lifelong experience.

  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 2:58 PM In reply to

    • Toni B.
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Apr 5 2008
    • Seneca Falls NY
    • Posts 3,826

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    Knowing your husband is retiring from the the military, the first thing you need to do is go to the Finance and Accounting Office and find out exactly what your retirement pay will be. The reality will be a shock. You will need to put everyone in the family "On Notice" that things have to change Now. The adult children need to fend for themselves without relying on you. There are resources out there besides mom and dad and you've done more than your fair share. The younger kids need limits on what you're going to spend for birthdays and holidays. Set a spending cap, tell them ahead of time that they have a set amount and they can decide what they really want within the limits. The costly activities also need to be suspended until you can get to a place where you can afford them. Don't break down otherwise they won't take you seriously.
    This is concerning me as my husband is approaching retirement from the military with a reduction in pay and an unstable job situation.
    DH retired from the military in 1990. Our kids were 8 & 4 at the time. We both had major surgery the same month he retired. In addition, half his pension goes to his ex wife. We lived in a rural part of NY state and there wasn't much work. We both ended up going back to college and getting bachelors degrees. We lived solely on 50% of his pension, student loans and whatever work we could pick up. It took us 7 years to get "established" and during that time we were careful not to get in over our heads with housing, cars etc. There were very lean times for about 3 years. We lived in a tiny house for 7 yeas, grew our own food and DH hunted deer. Good Luck and Thank you for serving our country.
    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Stages of Life
  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 4:21 PM In reply to

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    Well, if it was me this is what I'd do.

    Sit with hubby and hash it out.  What are they jointly willing to do?  What do they feel is in the best interest of themselves and the kids.  Be brutally honest with each other on what they are willing to do.  Making a plan and then not sticking to it because one party doesn't agree doesn't solve the issue.  Write it out, line by line, child by child.

    Once that is established, have a family meeting.  Either all together, or one on one (depending on what they feel would work best).  Tell the kids what they are doing to do, and when.  Name a time, either in the future or effective immediately, that these changes will take effect.  Be prepared for anger, resentment, crying, swearing, etc.  They don't owe them an explanation unless they want to give one (maybe I'd explain it simplistically to the 7 and 12 year old).  Bottom line is, Mom and Dad make the money, they get to decide how and when to spend it.  Kids don't have to like it, but they need to repsect their parents.  Issues arise because of it?  So be it, Mom and Dad need to do what is right from THIS point forward.  Guilt and resentment for what they've allowed or enabled?  Work through it with each other, pray, talk to others.  What has been done can't be changed, all they can do is stop the snowball from getting bigger.

    Heather in CA
  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 7:32 PM In reply to

    • MarthaMFI
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Apr 16 2008
    • New Westminster, BC, Canada
    • Posts 10,850

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    Wow time to cut off the adult kids!   not doing them any favors in the long run.  The kids aren't going to support them in their retirement. And what about college for the younger kids.  Also if they think can have kids, they can afford to pay their own bills.  

    For the younger kids,    I agreed that activities are important but I would put a limit on them or find different ways of doing them.  limit games/toys or find ways to get them cheaper.  Maybe make doll clothes with dd.

    The kids aren't going to be happy but but in the end no one is going to give them sympathy because I would like someone paying my bills lol.

    Officially recognized Stretchpert in Hobbies and Crafts
  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 8:40 PM In reply to

    • gayla50
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Sep 24 2007
    • Western North Carolina
    • Posts 8,491

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    Find out what you really have during retirement .. then set a budget  you do not need to give the adults and explanation or anymore more money . cut down the children activiities  they will thank you .                            


    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Frugal Food and Cooking and in Slow Cooker Foods

    Purpose is what gives life a meaning
  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 10:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    I have to agree with the other about cutting the oldest 2 off and dropping some of the activites for the youngest two there is no reason why Mom & Dad should be going without while the kids get everything.

    I have 5 dks (22,19,14,13&3) and the best gift that I've ever given them is the ablity to be self sufficant.

    When they were younger the kids had friends that went to activites like your younger ones do but I always limited them to 1 activity that was it. I took a lot of bull from their friends parents but told them that I cherished my sanity and wasn't going to drive myself insane trying to get them from one activity to another so 1 was it. When they turned 12 all 4 took on paper routes (the oldest 2 later took on retail jobs) I told the kids that if they wanted to go to one activity that was fine but since they were working they had to pay for their dues, fees, clothes ect for that activity. They were also told that they had to pay for their own school supplies, clothes and lab fees out of their checks. When they worked and paid for things suddenly everything needed to last longer, spiral note books were no longer thrown out at the end of the school year with only 10 sheets used they were saved for the next year cause they didn't want to buy another one if they didn't have to. My 22 yo carried the same backpack all through out high school cause it was in good shape and she didn't want to buy another one just cause it was a new school year. My 19 yo bought a pair of steel toe boots when he was 14 that he out grew a couple months later rather than spend money on new boots he duct taped them for the rest of the year cause duct tape was cheaper than new boots. Both had the money several times to replace their stuff but choose to make them last. Yes I took a lot of bull from their friends parents about that too I was depriving my kids of their childhood by having them work, they needed to be in activites to get ahead in life, I was hurting them by taking them to the thrift store and bag sales for school clothes cause they were entitled to new ones each year. They gave their kids everything cause they loved them.

    Funny thing about those parents now that their kids are older and have either graduated from high school or dropped out of school/college their kids won't get a job but will sit home all day eating their food watching tv and bugging Mom & Dad for money to buy the latest greatest thing. Mine having had grown up learning how to be self sufficant work for what they want. They don't ask us to buy them the latest and greatest thing it comes out of their paychecks as does their gorceries. My 19 yo is planning on getting an apartment in the next few months my 22 yo will follow him shortly after she graduates from college. Thier friends parents keep asking me how I got mine to manage on their own I tell them that I taught them how and that living with Mom and Dad wasn't a permenet thing here. I've yet to go to a job interview where the manager cared what after school activity I did or what sport I played in school but I've gotten several jobs (as have the oldest 2) by having work references.

    By induldging your kids the only thing you're teaching them is that Mom & Dad will always take care of them if you say "NO" once in awhile it will shock them but won't hurt them (yes there might be a tempertantrum or two from the older ones but they'll learn) it will allow them to figure out another way to solve a problem (another skill my kids have that their friends don't seem to) and in a few years they will probably thank you for making them grow up. You have to model for your kids the skills you want them to have in life and thrift is a skill that everyone needs. Since you have a 12 yo why not have them start a small business in your area to help pay for their wii games, clothes or activites? If you live in base housing things like housing up keep are important to the co and higher ups maybe raking leaves, mowing a law or shoveling sssss (ahem) sssss (ahem) snow (sorry choking on that word) could bring in some money if not what about baby sitting or tutoring?

    Since being debt free is important to your dh then obviously you need to work out a budget with him that your entire family can stick to. Allow yourself some money for things like movies and eating out once in a while (less than twice a month) so you can still have fun and enjoy life but don't allow your kids to walk over you for what they want.

    Kids do notice how other people parent their kids and try to play one against the other pressuring their parents to keep up with the Jones to see what they can/can't get away with and they do remember. Over the summer I ran into a former friend of my 19 yos &his mother who was one of those who swore I was hurting my kids by having them work. We were talking about his plans after he graduates this year when he looked his mother and said to me "You were smart making your kids get jobs and learn how to handle money when they were young, they know how to live in the real world which is more than I can do." I suggested that he get a job pointing out to him that the paper route still had openings if he wanted something that was 1 day a week he said he wanted a real job that paid something like $10ph with benefits right out of high school. I shook my head and walked away. He's got a lot to learn and a long way to go.

    thrift is a sign of intelligence, any fool can spend money

    A merry heart does good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17 verse 22
  • Thu, Nov 12 2009 11:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Too much spending on children, reader needs help

    oh gee I have to set a limit on children thats the gimmie gimmie generation so maybe 25 for me some have to do less like my sister cindy

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