Kid’s + Activities + Money + Guilt = ?

How much is too much to spend on your children’s activities?   Well, in order to figure out that number, you first need to understand the 4.5 layers of money guilt that are wrapped around that decision.  

It Isn’t Just about the Math

As with a lot of money issues, we are dealing with things that are more than just math. There seems to be a lot of pressure to have your children in multiple activities, to be engaged and to be supportive. It is slowly killing many of you – from the layers of guilt and the costs – in terms of time, money and time. Yup, that’s time twice. So what are the things playing on your mind when it comes to your children’s activities?

The 4.5 Layers of Money Guilt

You want your children to have the opportunity to try different sports and activities so that they will learn teamwork and different skills. 

You want your children to have the same experiences you had or…

You want your children to have the experiences you never had.

Your kid’s friends are pressuring them to participate.

Your kid’s friend’s parents are pressuring you to have them participate. You worry what they will think if you back out – can’t you afford it?  Do you not care about your child and their development?

And we haven’t even started talking about the money yet… but patience… we will get there. We have some unpacking to do on these things first. Taking the time to understand the mental factors affecting your decisions will also inform the money piece.

The emotional aspects of wanting your children to be able to participate as far as their talents will take them, and to do the same things as their peer group is high.  You want them to have every opportunity to shine. They can weigh heavily but bringing them up to your conscious level is so helpful.

But Betsy Boo Boo is Learning the value of hard work

Let’s look at the first layer a little deeper – opportunities to try things… We know that learning how to play well with others, learn new skills and how to persevere in that practice is important. If competition is involved, our little ones can learn how to cope with disappointment and how to lose and win gracefully. These are all skills that can serve throughout life and should be encouraged. Now, if you are facing constraints like budget, overscheduling, etc., dig down and see what it is you want your child to learn and experience. How can you give them those experiences in the context of budget and time? 

The Best Part of my Childhood was When I Danced

The desire to have your child have the same experiences as you did, or the ones you never had, has a common word – YOU. That means that these levels of guilt are a YOU issue. There may be good reasons and intentions in here, however, you need to back YOU out of the picture and make it about your child.   Imposing your wants and desires on your child may work from time to time, but really looking at your intentions can make sure that everyone is happy and winning. The result may still be the same. 

Now as we dig into the friends and the friends’ parents, we come to peer pressure. And we have all faced it at one time or another. When we were younger it seems to have been even harder to resist – we wanted to fit in, to be liked and invited to the cool stuff… wait a minute, maybe it doesn’t change based on age!

You may feel judged by the parents of their friends if your children aren’t playing. Maybe they think you can’t afford it. Do you not care about your child and their development? 

Let’s Get to the Money

So how much is too much? This is an individual family question that should touch on your family’s goals for time together, unstructured time, and your answers to some of the questions above. As for the amount to spend, this is also very family dependent.

Here is a process to work through the numbers:   

Step One – Determine how much you would ideally like to spend on your children’s activities.

Step Two – Analyze what it actually costs. One family I recently worked with thought they were  spending around two thousand on their son’s hockey. When we added up registration for winter and spring league, elite camp, equipment, tournament costs of hotel nights and travel, it was actually over six thousand. 

Once the numbers are in, compare the numbers from the first two steps. If your funds are not unlimited, like most families, choices may have to be made.  

The final step is to start the conversation. 

Depending on your child’s age, you may want to involve your child in the discussions. We have a budget of  $x  for  your  activities. Here is what each of your things actually cost. We can’t afford to do them all  –  what are the ones you want to keep? Learning to make choices like this are a part of life  –  as few  people can have everything they want!

 Remember, kids are often more resilient than we give them  credit for. And please don’t go into debt to make it happen – it can be very hard to come back from!

If you would like to dig in further to why you feel the way you do about money, check out my free webinar, Wisdom in Wealth.

Wendy Brookhouse

Wendy Brookhouse

Financial Expert, Innovator, Author, Business Owner, Lover of Fun, Wealth Ambassador

With the audacious goal of changing a million lives through finances, Wendy saw a gap in the market and developed the One Number Solution™, a unique system which focuses on planning with behavioral finance tenants in mind.   People need to see how to have a financially successful today while planning for tomorrow.

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