Dear Mum, Stop Spending on your Kids

Aww, it’s so cute” I just have to buy it —  

“I know Isabelle is not old enough but she will look like a little princess in this”

“Look at that train? It looks so real, I’m sure Jason will love it”.

Are you a mum, mum to be or dedicated Aunty? If so, I’m sure you have made the above statements or a few other variations.

On the scale of 1-10, spending on kids must be right up there at 20. Yes, I said it (or wrote it :-))

Let’s be honest here. Who are you really buying for?

Kids are pretty simple (well, the younger ones). For the most part they want to eat, sleep and play (in no particular order). Yet we bombard them with things.

Dear mummy, is the purchase a result of a guilt trip? Do you feel like you abandoned them because of work or some other responsibility or is this because of a void within your self?

It could be an unconscious need to spend because you believe this shows the measure of your love and dedication or may be you feel you were deprived as a kid and now wish to make up for it. It could even be cultural, to do what is required of you.

Whatever your reason may be, a further examination may be helpful to get a better sense of why you do it. 

Okay, let’s go back in time…

When you think of your childhood, what are the things that stand out? 

I’m sure many of you will remember playing outside. Running around, ‘ten ten’ was the gees then, cooking unmentionable concoctions, reading “Eze goes to School”, fighting with your ‘best friend’ and making up almost immediately, hating and liking the cute boys and all the other things that made our childhood awesome.

A lot of it had very little to do with material things. Even if there were any memorable clothes or toys, you are more likely to remember what happened when you wore or played with these items rather than the actual item.

You may wonder where I’m going with this but it all ties to our goals and plans in life and our level of progress. Research has shown that taking care of kids sets couples back  financially.

The figures in the US show an average spend of $245,340 for a middle-income family, per child from 0 -18years (Huffington Post). Don’t have the figures for Nigeria but I’m sure it’s pretty high.

This is understandable because those diapers and bottles just have to be bought. However, there are other things that we spend on which are not necessarily essential to the upbringing of the child but do add up.

Why does your one-year-old son or daughter have 10 Ralph Lauren Polos, 20 Gap tees, 20 ‘princess’ dresses and other high street branded items? Does he or she really need that much or must they be so expensive. While I generally believe quality trumps quantity, for kids clothing, this may not always be applicable.

First of all, they grow so fast at that age so you have to buy new things every few months. Which means the designer items have to be stored some place or given away pretty often.

This is not a cry against buying beautiful things for your amazing children but when every outfit is a fashion show, who is fooling who?images-12

Ah! the birthday parties. Another sink hole for parents. Trust me when I say a one-year-old will not remember that birthday party. Tone it down, please. 

A friend mentioned recently that party packs were banned at his daughter’s school. I think that was a good decision by the school. It is clear this has become a competition amongst parents and not even about the kids and what they like. I have to ask, yet again, who are you buying for?

Closing Thoughts

While I’m not yet a mum, I’m a dedicated Aunty with a few godchildren. I do understand the desire to spend on them.

The key is to remember who you are buying it for. 

Don’t try to excuse bad spending habits on the pretext of caring. You only end up spending more than you should and this reduces your ability to focus or spend on the things that actually matter.

Is this your story? No worries, you can still change it. I would love to hear from you. You can send in your comments or follow this blog for more tips.

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About King Alex

A simple individual that wants to make an impact

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