Do Your Kids Need So Much Stuff?

It’s expensive raising a family. It gets worse if your children’s friends have more things than you can get for your children, as they get jealous. Computers, video game systems, the list goes on and kids of all ages start begging for more.

Of course, not every family can afford to have the same things. It’s a hard lesson for children, but one well worth teaching.

The first thing you need to do with your children about spending money on more things is simply be honest about why you will not. It may be that you don’t have the money or it may be that you don’t feel they need to have that particular item. Tell them why you aren’t buying it. They won’t enjoy hearing it, especially if you say it’s because you don’t think they need it, but it’s the truth.

For example, it seems to be increasingly common for children to have a computer in their own room. Do they really need it? My husband and I do not intend to let our kids have computers in their room. Now, our daughter is currently 2 years old, and our son will be born in a few months, so this is yet academic for us, but our feeling is that the computer, especially if hooked up to the internet, should not be someplace as private as a child’s room. Same goes for televisions. We plan on setting aside an office or even just a desk for the computer, someplace where computer usage can easily be monitored.

Do not go into debt trying to please your child’s wants. When they grow up, they may appreciate that they have learned to put off wants in favor of needs. How many of you had friends in college who were always barely able to buy food or pay rent because they just had to have the latest gadget or needed to party with their friends? Do you think you can build good financial habits in your children by overspending?

If your child really wants something, why not make them save the money for it themselves? This is harder on children who are too young to earn more than a small allowance but good practice in any case.

Of course, if your child wants a computer and manages to save enough to buy their own, you do not have to feel obligated to let them have it in their own room, although such rules should be made clear when you tell your child to save for it. If you don’t want them to have something, that may have to suffice as the reason.

It’s not easy keeping children from being excessively materialistic, but it’s a great thing to teach them. Suggest that they give old toys to charity or even make a practice of it when they get a new one. We do not have to raise materialistic consumers just because that’s the easy way to go.


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