I was recently asked a question by a mom who was wondering how she can break the bad habits she has around spending money on her kids. Specifically in the area of toys and clothing. I talk a lot about my struggles of being a shopaholic, for sure, but I suppose I never really dove into my struggles with overspending on my kids. Today I want to cover some of the strategies I used that allowed me to be more intentional with my money and how I spend it when it comes to my children.
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Deciding your parenting style
The first thing I suggest doing is truly taking a moment to think about the type of parent that you want to be.
In fact, getting clear about what you want in every area of your life can help you be more intentional all around with your finances. I believe this so much so that it is the entire foundation of The Bucket List Budget course.
Letting go of our own childhoods
Sometimes, if we grew up with nothing (or very little,) we have that subconscious desire to give our kids the whole world.
Maybe the opposite was true.
We grew up wearing ragged hand-me-down clothes so we buy our children the most expensive stuff we can find.
In reality, neither extreme is a healthy option for kids.
What I would encourage you to do is sit down with yourself and get quiet. Give yourself some time to really think about the parent that you want to be and the kind of children you want to raise.
- Do you want them to always dress their best?
- Does the idea of them having the best playroom in the world inspire you?
- Would you rather spend more time doing things hands-on?
- Is allowing them to accel in sports a top priority for you?
Take a moment to think about what you truly want for them and who you want to be and then ask yourself a few more questions.
Being honest about your insecurities
Are your top priorities to have well-groomed children? There is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to be clean and well taken care of. Absolutely not. But, I would challenge you to ask yourself if you are focusing more on their appearance because you are afraid of what it might say about you?
As parents, we often feel that our children, their behavior, and appearance say a lot about who we are as people. We don’t want people thinking less of us. Really think about your priorities and/or ulterior motives behind why your children’s possessions may be of importance to you.
Are you overcompensating?
A main driving force behind my own shopping addiction was because at my very core I was feeling incomplete. I thought the newest outfit or accessories would somehow add value to my life.
When it comes to our children, we might let this same limiting mindset spill over into things like their toys. Do you feel that if you spoil them enough they will feel loved by you? Is there a part of you that fears not giving them the world?
I get it. As parents, we want the best for our kids and honestly, the best is not anything material that you can present to them. The best is just you. Just showing up. Yes, they might whine for toys or other stuff…but at their core, your love and attention is all they need.
Areas that don’t align
Once you’ve decided what you want for your kids and who you want to be as a parent, make the choice to get rid of anything that doesn’t align with these things.
Maybe you really want them to be in the best sports. You want to help them grow in their artistic talent by keeping them in painting classes.
Do you want to make sure they have the healthiest foods to nurture their bodies and what they wear on the outside doesn’t seem to matter as much?
Make the choice to spend less in another area so that you can spend more on this area that holds value to you.
Other articles you’ll love:
- The 3 Times a Year to Declutter with Kids
- Minimalist Living with Kids. Simple Tips for Toys.
- Creating a Minimalist Home with Less Toys and More Creativity
- Finding Simplicity After Adopting from Foster Care
Doing spending audit
So how do you move money around? First, you kind of need to know where it’s all going to in the first place. You can figure this out by doing a spending audit.
Take the time to create categories for your spending. That might look something like this:
- Out to eat
Go through your last month’s spending to get an idea of how much money you spent in different areas when it comes to your kids. Then make the choice for which areas you want to spend less in.
Does budgeting freak you out?
If the idea of trying to do a budget totally freaks you out, I get it. Don’t panic. Money was a struggle that I always used to avoid. Now, I’ve created The Bucket List Budget that makes it way easier to understand how to understand your money.
I also share great tips on my IGTV videos on Instagram if you’re looking for simple starting steps.
Are you making time-smart purchases?
Now, whatever areas you decide are worth your money (and the time it took you to make that money), ask yourself if you are making that money last?
If you always buy your kids $4 cake pops from Starbucks when you grab your latte (talkin’ about me)…is that $4 per pop paying off? Maybe you could sit down together for even 5 minutes while you indulge a little together. Make a moment out of these times. A $4 cake pop could easily turn into a life-long memory of, “Remember when mom would take us on Starbucks dates?!”
You pay for soccer but do you do it because you feel like your kids have to be in sports? Maybe your son’s real passion lies in music and your time and money would be better spent flipping the bill for drum lessons. He can still play outside, run around and get exercise later.
Out of alignment spending
When we spend on purchases that are out of alignment with who we truly are as people or what we want the most from our lives, we naturally have that slimy, icky feeling around money.
That’s why my biggest belief and the way I teach The Bucket List Budget is to first decide what we want, and then make our money work with us to make it happen.
Making a plan for the future
Man, my heart feels heavy just writing this post. Not sure if that’s good or bad. But, once you have taken the time to think through what matters the most to you, make a plan to stick to it in the future.
Remind yourself to focus on the big picture. Don’t let yourself get hung up by “what you should do” and don’t let your hard-earned money go to waste on things that don’t hold long-term value.
If you just want someone to guide you through the entire process, check out The Bucket List Budget course to see if it’s a good fit. Giving your kids an amazing and memorable life is 100% possible — and you don’t have to stress about money to make it happen.