Skip to Main Content

5 ways parents overspend on their kids — and how they can stop

Mother and daughter clothing shopping
Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

Many parents give into weakness when it comes to spending money on their kids.

Whether it’s buying a 6-year-old a candy bar at the checkout counter or sending an adult child a check to cover the rent, the urge to spend in order to please children is powerful.  

“Parents want their kids to be happy,” says Leisa Brown Aiken, a Chicago-based certified financial planner.  And kids are “really good at making you feel like if they don’t get it, they’re going to be unhappy and you’re a terrible parent.”

Giving in to these impulses, however, can have serious financial consequences, says Joan Koonce, a professor and financial planning specialist at the University of Georgia. “Parents are trying to provide (kids) with these things, and sometimes it’s a bad situation because they really can’t afford it,” she says.

Worse, it creates a pattern with ever higher stakes as children get older. “When they leave their parents’ household for the first time, many of them end up in a lot of debt,” Koonce says.

Here are some financial moves that children commonly demand and how to push back.

Set a good example for your kids. Shop for a savings account today.