What Do You Have Your Kids Pay For?

Updated on July 06, 2010
N.S. asks from Buffalo Grove, IL
9 answers

Thanks to all the mamas on here we are getting on track with my little 9-year old spender stepdaughter with expensive taste! She always wants us to buy her stuff, demands the most expensive food on the menu if we take her out, had a birthday list that was just ridiculous with expensive items.

We had a talk and increased her allowance to $10 a week. Of that she can keep $5 to spend, and has to put $3 in savings and $2 to charity. We made banks with "Savings" and "Charity" on them.

I'm not sure which things to make her buy. Obviously if we are out and she'd like a toy or something we would have her spend her own money. However, the issue isn't with her wanting toys as much as wanting other things. Like she always wants to eat in a restaurant. We'll be out running errands and she wants me to buy her ice cream. We pass a vending machine and she just HAS to get something in the vending machine. She's always wanting us to take her to the movies or mini-golfing. Even swimming. All of these things cost money and THAT is the lesson we're trying to get across. It's nice to do these things but we can't do them all the time because it gets expensive. Every day it's ASK ASK ASK. Is this normal? Do other 9-year olds ask to go out and do things every single day? We've had the conversation numerous times that we are not going to spend money and XYZ and if we do go out we try to do free things like the library or the park. However, then she's disappointed. Not throwing a tantrum disappointed, but dejected. Not wanting to talk. And then I get mad and say we're not going anywhere.

I don't remember asking my parents to take me all these places every day. I remember going to a movie to be a treat, the same with mini-golf and bowling. I remember playing in my room with my toys and being outside in the yard in the summer.

Anyway, any advice is welcome! On her birthday she got some nice gifts (not from her extravagant list but nice nonetheless). I made her a special birthday breakfast. And then the asking started. What are we doing? Where are we going? Where are you going to take me? The answer is NOWHERE! We thought we'd have a nice relaxing day; she can play with her new toys. In two days we are going to the Dells and later on she's having a big birthday party. Now she claims she's bored, and I'm ready to throw all her new toys out the window!

What can I do next?

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answers from San Diego on

Maybe she can contribute to planning the family outings on the calendar in advance. That way she doesn't have to ask every day. You/the family could plan outings based on time and money and know in advance (approx) how much those outings might cost. It would teach her budgeting and by having her be a part, then she'll be more likely to be okay with the result.

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answers from Boston on

Three part answer:

For the birthday thing, if it were my birthday, I would expect that something had been planned, even if my "party" were in a couple of days. But in our family, birthdays are kind of a big deal. 9 year olds don't appreciate the concept of "relaxing;" they don't really have anything to relax from. You can be irritated that she's asking to do something, but in this context, I don't think that she's being unreasonable.

As for what she should pay for, I think that she should pay for things that she has to have spur-of-the-moment. So if she's out and "has" to have ice cream and you're not planning on having any, she's got to pay. Same thing with toys from the vending machine. I would ask once "are you sure you want to spend your money on that? didn't you want to save for XYZ thing that you mentioned the other day?" If she doesn't, let it go. This seems a lot like a control issue.

Finally, why don't you figure out what you can spend weekly, as a family, on outings, etc and then on Sunday nights (or whenever) you can sit down together and say "how are we going to spend our $35 entertainment budget this week?" Then she can start thinking about whether she can go mini-golfing or swimming. She can think about spacing out expensive dates with cheap ones. Same thing with going out to dinner - you can tell her that each person gets to spend $15 (or whatever). That means that she can either get the most expensive thing on the menu or she can get something cheaper and dessert.

Honestly, even if you didn't pester your parents this way, you probably pestered them in some equally annoying way : ) You can continue to butt heads about this, or you can come up with creative ways to try to solve the problem. I don't mean that to be snarky, but I think you'll all have a better summer that way. Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It depends on the day. Sometimes you may feel like buying her ice cream.......then do it! If you don't feel like it then I would say something like, "No, I don't want to spend my money that way today, but if you would like to spend your own money I'll be glad to take you over there."

When she complains then gently (and as sweetly as you can) remind her that when she is all grown up and working she will be able to choose what she spends her money on, or save for what she wants now.

On her birthday I would give her a choice. Would you rather have presents or is there somewhere special you would like to go? That sort of thing. This way you keep in budget and she gets to choose what is most important to her.

We did allowances as you are with our kids. It worked great! On vacations we always gave them extra money that they could choose to spend however they liked. If the whole family was going to play miniature golf then we paid, but if they wanted to play games, etc.... that was on their dime.

All kids complain they are bored. I'd suggest summer camp, trips to the swimming pool as often as you can and invite kids over. She is at the age where she now wants to be surrounded by friends every day.

Try not to be angry when you tell your daughter "no." Try to be sympathetic. "I'm sorry honey, but we don't have plans to go anywhere today. Why don't you call a friend to come over."

Oh.....one more thing. When she asks for something you would like her to have but you think is too expensive you can always tell her how much you are willing to spend. Then she can decide whether she wants to throw in the rest.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would make her pay for the vending machine stuff, the ice cream, the activities not planned by you. As for eating out in a restaurant, if it's the family then that's a family expense. As are any activities you all do together.
My 7 year old son is the same way and I'm glad you asked this question, because I am wondering the same thing. He needs to realize that we don't have a money tree in the back yard!

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answers from Evansville on

She is old enough to understand trade-offs... so give her options. For example, "Would you rather go see a movie today or go play putt-putt on Thursday?" This way she can decide what is more important to her... and help her understand she can't have it all. "Would you rather have that new shirt or those new jeans?" and not both. I think it is difficult to manage... because her friends are probably going everywhere, getting everything, all the time. I have a now 16yr old who went through this starting at 10 and is still going through it. The older they get, their wants are bigger and more expensive. So they need to understand it as early as possible. Good luck! We still haven't figured it all out... but we are trying!

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answers from Dallas on

My 15 yr old gets $50 a week and she buys many of her clothes. She is much better understanding the value of HER dollar vs mine. She loves for me to go shopping with her, LOL because I am the bank. She's much more frugal when she uses her funds.

Granted, I do buy A LOT of her clothes but when she had her heart set on the 2nd pair $175 jeans and the 3rd Coach purse, it was up to her to fund those.

She is money conscious...... she has to be because her dad and I are numbers people. We've taught by example along the way...yes we can have extravagant things but they are earned by delayed gratification.

Hang in there,

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answers from New York on

First of all, I like your idea about the allowance, I would just change make her donate $2 for charity and leave that open on what she would want to give her self. Every once in a while I have a talk to my daughter about other people and kids that have nothing.
About her birthday, I think is normal that she is all "energetic" about her birthday, specially at this age and specially about having a party, I would explain her why we decide to celebrate on a different day. However, I don't think any 9 year kid would appreciate a "relaxing day" on their birthday and I can agree with them.
Now, money ways, you are right, all those things cost money, but it shouldn't be a fight between you guys. I told my 12 year old we have a budget, and we have to accommodate all our needs first then we try to satisfy their wishes. But is not possible nor good to buy stuff everyday.
I ask my girl to trust me that everything we do (even if sometimes doesn't look like) we do it for their benefit.
We have been very tight on money, so for long I didn't bought anything my girl ask me, I didn't give to much explanation, just we can't right now. This week we send her to Summer camp which she LOVES, and I told her, this is part of why we couldn't buy this and that. She did thanks us and I told her that she is always on my mind when we spend anything, which is true, but not always will give her an explanation on why I spend on what.
I wouldn't ask her to pay for food, clothes or school items. All the other stuff like books, toys or clothes, if she wants something and I don't want or can't buy and she have the money go for, (but if she buys ice cream she knows she would have to share with her little sister).
This question end up being more complicated then what I thought, lol.
I keep writing and still not satisfy in how I am explaining.
Sometimes I wouldn't even spend her own money if I think is a big mistake that she will regret later.
Ugg! I'm sorry I don't think I help much, but I did try : (

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answers from Lansing on

Why do you give her an allowance and then tell her how she has to spend this money? If she is doing chores to get the allowance, she earned the money to spend how she wishes. Let her spend it how she wants. When she starts asking for things, ask her how much money she has from her allowance to pay for the things and if she doesn't have enough than she doesn't get the item she is asking for. She will eventually get the message. Then out of the blue you can surprise her by saying we'll plan on mini-golf on such and such a day, its my treat. She will get the message. Good luck.

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