Kids and Activities – The Pressure to Spend Money

Who are the Jones’? Why do we have this need, desire and pressure to keep up with them? Having school age children in sports I have become mystified. I have always been aware of the budgets of clients and how they overspend to meet their kid’s desires but now it has become real.

According to TIME, kid’s sports is a $15.3 billion industry that has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. Between league fees, camps, equipment, training and travel, families are spending as much as 10% of their income on sports according to a survey from Utah State University, with an average of around $2,292 per year. Some families were found to spend close to $20,000!

It astounds me how we are going broke to have our kids have what we didn’t have. We all want what is best for our kids. I get it. I am a mom. But we are all working more hours to make more money to shuttle our kids around from activity to activity to activity but at what cost?

What are we teaching our kids but what are we doing to ourselves? Yes I’m a believer in sports and activities –I attribute a lot of my success to the values being a committed ice skater gave me. But I’m also a believer that if we are going into debt, not adding to our own retirement or sacrificing our health and our financial well-being, we really need to evaluate our decisions and those of our kids.

It used to be you could be in one sport and play and have fun. Now there is pressure from society to be in multiple sports and activities and to have the right clothes, extra training, hats, sweatshirts and all the extras beyond what is necessary to play the sport or participate in the activity. Let alone to be in the same sport year-round. I was a figure skater and at the ice arena every day all year, but that was in High School, not when I was 9 years old.

Our kids are here to learn from us. They can’t learn if we just give in and give them everything they want and make life easy for them. What are we then really teaching our kids?

So how do we teach our kids about money so they learn the value of it? The best way is to lead by example. Make them aware of things. Tell them how you work to make the money, that it doesn’t come magically out of the ATM. Talk to them about how much things cost, and how much work you had to put in to purchase that item.

Another way I strongly recommend is helping them to realize the difference between a want and a need. A great exercise you can have them do is draw a line down a sheet of paper. One side label “Wants” and the other “Needs” and have them cut out pictures from magazines, coupon books, etc and glue them to the side that they think they belong.

It is important to keep our kids active and teach them values and balance and goals and achievement. But the statistics also show how the rate of participation in sports and activities is drastically dropping. So, like in anything, it comes to balance. Let’s teach out kids the value of money and the value of achievement.

This information has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Opinions
expressed are those of Nicole Middendorf and are not necessarily those of Raymond James.