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

4 min read
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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.