However the social pressures can make it very difficult not to, but it will cost you.
Keeping up with the Joneses is an idiom which is used to compare your social status or accumulation of stuff with your neighbour or friends, is just as relevant today as when it was first coined. I have seen many examples over the years where people were trying to ensure they have the best homes, cars, clothing and other gadgets for themselves. It’s even harder when your neighbours seem to be buying all the latest and greatest gaming systems, phones and clothing for their kids. It creates a lot of pressure for people to ensure their own kids have the same, think about birthdays. This where I even fell victim to the social pressures with our kids, like other parents we ended up spending hundreds renting a special gym with lots of activities for over 25 kids, in retrospect it was a little over the top however we looked at the gym rental as an experience instead of buying things with the money, nevertheless it cost us a bundle.
“Sometimes you need to make the tough choices and just say No”
It’s much more difficult than I thought becoming a parent, I realize that kids today face a lot more social pressures as a result of social media and the constant bombardment of corporate marketers. These pressures put parents into a position of trying to balance their finances while also ensuring their kids have all the name branded clothing and technology regardless of cost. Yes some parent end up buying the $1500 stroller and $100 name brand outfits that their kids, only to see them wear them a couple of times. Granted it can be important for some but, unfortunately it can pressure others to do the same. Luckily we learned to take a much more realistic and balanced approach with what we try and do for our kids, it’s not easy but after time we learned to say No.
“You can feel like your failing financially but never assume that others are in a better position”
The reality is most of us cannot keep up with the spending habits of other families, plus it can start to add debt and reduce savings very quickly, which in turn leads to stress not only on your finances but your family as well. My balance was to ensure my kids have what they require and do not overboard, but more importantly instead of just saying no all the time, I feel a need every so often to explain why I am saying No. By doing so I began to allow my kids to understand decisions from a financial perspective.
This lead me to learn how to:
1. Teach my kids the value of how good financial management is more important than buying everything they want,
2. Teach them to have a greater appreciation of the things they do have.
3. Teach them to understand there is a cost to spending money, nothing is free and the supply of money is not unlimited.
4. Teach them how to save for something they wanted.
“One of the best decisions I made was teaching my kids how to save and buy something”
This is something I never thought would work but it did, it was teaching my kids to learn how to save money to buy something for themselves. To do this they earned money from doing a few chores or getting money for Christmas which they could then use to buy something, what surprised me was they tended to hesitate buying something, they did not want to part with their money. I found my kids became much more selective, even if their friends had something they wanted, if it meant parting ways with their money and forgoing something else, they simply would not buy the item.
I understand everyone has different opinions on how they want to spend their money on kids, I could not agree more, you need to find your own balance , however there is great value in learning not to keep up with everyone else, it can not only help keep a little more money in your pocket but you can also teach your kids a lot about life.