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Kids want it all. And as parents, we get tired, worn-down or just sick of hearing them beg for it all. So we more-than-occasionally give in. And we end up spending a ton of cash in the process.
Here are the top 10 ways we waste money on our kids.
1. Movie Tickets
Taking youngsters to the movies before age 6 or 7 is kind of like ripping up a $20 bill just for fun. Either they’ll fall asleep or run through the aisles. Then you’re that parent who’s begging your tyrannical tot to be quiet or holding your popcorn-stuffed sleeping beauty through yet another princess movie.
2. Pets and Pet Supplies
Kids innately like animals. They also innately like the one hamster in the whole pet store that’s sure to die within the month. But you can bet he’ll live long enough for you to buy a mini mansion, exercise studio and 10-pound bag of cedar shavings. After the funeral, you’ll have to fill that high-priced house with another genetically-doomed fur ball. Then here we go again.
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Related: Pricey Pets: 4 Practical Ways to Save on Pet Care
3. Electronic Games
Your kids are smart. But that means they get bored with technology faster than you can say, “Whatever happened to coloring?” Apps may start out free, but then come the paid upgrades and all those in-app extras. Trust us, your kids won’t need therapy if you have them pitch in for their own electronic entertainment. And if that doesn’t interest them, there’s always crayons.
4. Family Passes
In an effort to entertain your kids every weekend, you bought family passes to the zoo, the theme park, the planetarium, the laser tag place and the ice skating rink. And you’ve been to each of them once. Next time, pass on the passes unless you’re sure to get your money’s worth.
5. Trampolines and Pools
Every kid wants a trampoline or an above-ground swimming pool. Or both! Who can blame them? But after you buy all the safety gear and cleaning equipment, how much use will your kids really get out of it? Plus, you’re now responsible for not killing every neighborhood kid who jumps a little too high and dives a little too recklessly. No thanks.
Related: Does a Swimming Pool Increase or Decrease Your Home’s Value?
6. Eating Out
When it comes to restaurants, kids have the not-so-adorable habit of barely touching their food. And you paid good money for those greasy chicken fingers and mac and cheese! Next time, pack a few PB&J sandwiches before hitting your favorite casual dining restaurant, and order some milk and a plate of fries. Your waiter won’t mind—as long as you leave a nice tip.
Related: Mind Your Manners: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid at Restaurants
Kids seem to magically outgrow or destroy their bikes just in time for Christmas every year. So skip the shiny, engineering marvels until your babes are old enough to care for their rides and actually use them for more than one season. A great used bike—with a little TLC from your local bike shop—will get them to the stop sign and back just fine.
8. Cartoon Bath Products
Barbie bath bubbles. Thomas toothbrushes. Big Bird bandages. Some marketing genius knew we’d pay more for soap if Elmo was taking a bath on the package. Here’s an idea: Look at the ingredients instead of the pictures. If you’re happy with what’s in it, your kids need to be happy with what’s on it—or not on it. End of story.
9. Brand-Name Clothes
A child’s wardrobe is messy and temporary. So don’t overpay for boutique clothes or brand-name apparel when consignment sales, big box retailers and thrift stores have nice enough stuff for way less. And when it comes to the second or third child, don’t feel bad about taking a stroll down hand-me-down lane.
10. Extravagant Birthdays
Your child doesn’t need a birthday party at school, at home, at church and at each set of grandparents’ houses. Pick one time and one place and whoever can make it, makes it. Then keep it simple and sweet. Your 5-year-old will be pleased as punch by all the attention, not all the party favors.
Instead of giving into every passing childhood whim, teach your kids the value of contentment. Because when kids are content, they’re happy with what they’ve got, not unhappy until they get what they want.
Then, when they do get that special gift, they’ll be in a better position to take care of it and appreciate all the love you wrapped up with it.
In the New York Times #1 Bestseller Smart Money Smart Kids, financial expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze equip parents to teach their children how to win with money. Starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving then moving into more challenging issues like avoiding debt, paying cash for college, and battling discontentment, Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach to changing your family tree. Get the book now!