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Saturday, April 23, 2011

What price our children?

Over the Easter break my two youngest boys are visiting their elder brother in Western Australia. They both flew out last night and have arrived safely.

Their flights were booked several weeks ago at a time when my youngest son had just commenced his apprenticeship and would have had to return to work next Wednesday, while my middle son could stay until the following Sunday. Since then my youngest son quit his apprenticeship and therefore could have stayed longer on his holiday, except that it would have cost around $100 extra to change his flight so, being on a tight budget, we decided against changing it.

However, on Friday morning I awoke to the news that the airline he was booked to come home on had been issued a notice by Aviation Australia with regard to a series of serious safety and maintenance breaches. I deliberated with myself for several hours. I looked up flights with other airlines, airlines that had better safety records. It would cost around $200 to get him on another flight home.

In the end I booked his return flight on another airline, the cheapest I could find gave him another 5 days with his brother. Despite being a bit of a drain on our finances, there was no way I could have faced myself if I had ignored the warnings and anything had happened to him on the original airline.

The whole process got me thinking. What is the price we are willing to pay for our children? I’m not talking about heroics and laying our lives on the line because I’m sure that 99% of parents would do just that if they had to. I’m talking about the cost of living. How much do you allow yourself to spend on your children? Does the amount have any relation to your budget? Do you spend more on yourself or your children? Do you sacrifice buying things for yourself so you can spend more on your children?

I know that over the years I’ve had to work with fairly strict budgets and have often had to say “no” when it came to buying things my boys wanted. By the way, I’ve read numerous books on prosperity, most of which tell me not to tell my children I can’t afford something, as that promotes negativity. However, I’ve never quite worked out what it is I should be saying. Apparently its better to say “I’m broke” rather than “I’m poor” but just how you rephrase “we can’t afford it” without holding out hope that you might be able to afford it next week, is something I haven’t quite grasped.

There are a few things that I don’t compromise on when it comes to spending. I’ve always tried to buy good quality sports shoes for my boys. I believe it’s important to keep their feet healthy and looked after. So their running shoes and footy boots have always been the best quality and make I can afford. It’s the same with my shoes. I’d rather spend a bit more and get good quality leather shoes that will last me 1-2 years of continuous wear, rather than spend less and get shoes that hardly last six months. Another thing that I’m willing to pay a bit more on is food. I’d rather spend more on healthy, nutritious food than I would on junk. So we eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, grain or wholemeal bread, whole grain cereals and low fat milk. We don’t often have takeaway food as I’ve found it’s far less expensive to cook at home.

Where do you draw the line on spending for your children?


  1. We had a very different situation at home growing up. Very messed up.

    I do not have kids so I am not sure if anything I say would be of use.

    But the books, sometimes I wonder what the logic is behind certain books? I think sometimes the self help books makes issues worse.

  2. I have only one son and we have rarely denied him anything. Luckily he is just a naturally frugal person and has never asked for much. As an ex shop owner, I believe that people will spend anything and everything on their kids. Any biz that caters to children will always do well. They are our weak spot because we just love them too much. Good food and shoes are very important and we never scrimp there either. We gave our son two surfer necklaces that we had bought in Mexico for him and he gave us one necklace back. He said he only could wear one necklace, so why have two. Love that he's like that.....

  3. Sounds like you made the right choices for your boys, Cass. If I have to tell my son he can't have something right now, I let him know when it's likely that we'll be able to afford to get it for him.

  4. i really don't think there's anything wrong with telling kids "we don't have extra money to be spending on xyz today", because that's life. you can't buy every little thing you want.

  5. It must be difficult too, when one's kids are no longer kids. It's perfectly understandable that you sprung for the tickets in this case. I guess it's a matter of being selective. Otherwise, you're an ATM for your child into adulthood. Some parents are, and their kids never grow up.

  6. It's so hard, isn't it? We are the poor family in a wealthy community, so my kids OFTEN want things thier peers have that we just can't afford. I have some things, like you, that I don't scrimp on (much) but a lot of things we just have to say no. We tend to do things like my daughter really wanted a digital camera (she has an interest in photography that she's proven will be long-term)--so we combined it as a birthday, christmas, plus she paid $100 of her own money. It is rough to only have one present in a year, but that was how we had to do it if she wanted it. She is trying to save now for a trip with school to Italy, and I've made it very clear she has to earn all her own money, because we can't afford it.

  7. I think you did the right thing Cassandra, no price is too much for your son's safety.
    They will learn soon enough what things really cost and the sacrifices we all need to make.

  8. That is such a great question. I have drawn the line on summer camps and other activities that I am sure would have been good for my kids, but at the time did not seem necessary.

  9. My kids are grown-ass women, but, my daughters have both told me that even though we didn't have the most money in the world (hardly any cuz we decided I'd stay home when they were small) both of them had no idea of it.

    We had a good family, had good fun, and my oldest especially, says that her childhood was magical.

    You can't buy that with money right?

  10. We are fortunate we don't have much debt but I'm feeling a little worried about work. Hope things get smoothed out, too much stress.

  11. Domestic - I've read alot of self help books, some good and some bad. I think the "self" bit starts when you weed out what you want from them!

    Mermaid - it sounds like you have a wonderful son!

    Joy - I guess some things I knew I could never afford, but you get that in life!!!

    Not Blessed - I totally agree!

    Robyn - I'm definitely not their ATM any more! The good thing is they all know that and they are all determined to be independent. I love them for it.

    Hart - I can totally empathise! And it isn't easy, but your daughter will always appreciate material things all the more, I'm sure of that.

    Gaz - thank you! They are definitely learning that...

    Kazzy - sometimes I think its good when we draw lines. I don't necessarily believe in giving kids everything they want, even if we can afford it!

    Deborah - Absolutely! And they will always have and treasure those memories. Well done!

    Mrs Tuna - Sorry to hear you are worried about work. Will keep my fingers crossed for you!


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