19 Things You Should Make Your Kids Pay For

By Paul Michael on 13 May 2018 0 comments
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19 Things You Should Make Your Kids Pay For

Your kids are constantly being pressured to waste money. Advertising, microtransactions in "free" games, peer pressure, and even hidden product placements on TV are all programming your children to become indiscriminate consumers.

This is why you must teach your kids the value of money from an early age. You may already give your kids an allowance in exchange for them doing chores. But why stop there? You should also consider making them pay for some of your parenting expenses. Making kids pay for certain items will instill in them a stronger sense of financial responsibility and help prepare them for financial adulthood.

Here are 19 things you should make your kids pay for.

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1. Movies and TV

From rentals at Redbox and the internet, to movies on Blu-ray and DVD, and even trips to the theater, entertainment should be earned. Some parents have taken the step of charging their children 50 cents to watch a TV show or movie at home. That sounds extreme, but it certainly helps the kids understand that entertainment is a treat. Books, on the other hand, should always be free to your kids. If they know it's going to cost money to watch that cartoon or TV show, the prospect of a free book looks way more enticing.

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2. Designer clothing and accessories

Kids should not pay for clothing and accessories they need, like well-fitting shoes and warm winter coats. But there’s a world of difference between the apparel they need and the latest designer threads they want because their friends and favorite celebrities are wearing them. Yes, as kids get older, they place more importance on superficial things like name brands, expensive accessories, and "must have" fashions. But if they must have it, then they must pay for it. They will soon realize how expensive it is to wear the trendiest labels.

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3. Candy, gum, and other sweet treats

A chocolate bar, a packet of gum, an ice cream cone, and a big bag of taffy are not on the list of life's necessities. They're treats – and should be occasional ones at that. Some people choose to hand out candies as rewards, and that's OK. But it's better to give the children money and let them take the next step to trading that cash for something sweet.

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4. College

Wait, what? That's a big sum of money to saddle a kid with, and we're not suggesting your child pay for the whole thing, but helping with the costs, or even paying most of them, should be an early saving priority for them. College is key to unlocking future earning potential, and kids should contribute to this investment in their future success. More importantly, they'll be more likely to make the most of their college years when they're paying for it themselves.

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5. Toys and games

There are a few times during the year when buying toys for the kids is a good idea: the holidays, birthdays, and maybe a little something in an Easter basket. Other than that, toys should be off-limits unless they plan to pay for them with their own money. The trouble with buying toys for kids, of any age, is that they won't appreciate them if they just show up. Spending $5 on a small toy may not seem like a lot of money to you, but to an 8-year-old on a tight budget, it's a small fortune. If they have to fork over $5 for that toy, it will become a prized possession.

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6. Pets and pet supplies

Pets are wonderful family companions, and for children, they can teach important lessons about caregiving, loyalty, and empathy. Covering all the costs associated with a quintessential family pet like a dog or a cat may be out of reach for most allowance budgets (although teens with after-school jobs could be asked to pitch in). But for other kinds of pets, like fish or insects, your kids should cover most – or all – of the associated costs. After all, one important lesson of responsible caregiving is how much it actually costs to properly care for another living being.

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7. Gifts for friends and family

Remember when you were a little kid and your mom or dad would buy a gift for you to give back to them on birthdays and holidays? Well, that’s fine for a toddler, but when kids start getting an allowance, or earning money for chores, that practice should stop. Gift giving is not about the gift itself, but the thought and emotion behind it. A homemade gift from a child will always have far greater sentimental value than an expensive store-bought gift, so encourage your kids to pay for crafting supplies and small gift items with their own money.

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8. Cosmetics and beauty supplies

Although this will primarily affect teenagers, most kids are into the idea of changing their appearance and having a unique identity. Whether it's makeup, hair dye, nail art, or even services at the local salon, you shouldn't cover the costs of the kids' personal style statements. If it's a very special occasion, like prom or homecoming, that's a different story. But for everyday makeup or manicures, put the onus on them to pay for it. They will probably get very creative with how they spend their own money, including sharing supplies with friends, and doing each other's nails and hair.

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9. Any items freely available elsewhere

Books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines are available for free from the local library. Even if a title is not on the shelves, libraries can order copies from other branches, or even purchase them via a special request. If your kid just has to have his or her very own copy of a book or movie, tell them to buy it. There are many options open to them for purchase, so offer to help them save money by using eBay, arranging and attending a purchase via Craigslist, visiting thrift stores, and even subscribing to services that lend unlimited items for a monthly fee (you can even do this with toys now).

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10. Replacements for items they broke

Accidents happen. As an adult, when you break something you have no choice but to pay for a replacement. And even if there's a warranty, you may be paying a deductible and some shipping fees. Now imagine if anything you broke was replaced completely free of charge. How careful would you be? Let the kids know that if they break it, it's on them to replace it or live without it. This rule should include inexpensive stuff like toys, games, and pricey items like smartphones and scooters.

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11. Donations to charity

If a kid sees a collection box, or someone comes knocking on the door asking for a donation, kids certainly shouldn't be forced to donate. However, if they really want to, the money shouldn't come out of your pocket. They want to make the donation, they want to help a cause that's important to them, and therefore, they should use their own money. If they don't have any at that moment, throw out some money-making ideas. Maybe they could set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits or do a sponsored walk or run, or even sell some of their toys and games to raise the cash.

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12. Snacks between meals

If you're out at a carnival or street fair and the kids see a hot dog vendor or a pretzel stand, there's no reason you should pay for those snacks. It's nice to treat them, of course, but get the kids into the habit of paying for treats with their own money. It will discourage them from spoiling their appetite for lunch or dinner and teach them that snacks, especially unhealthy ones, may not be worth the money. The exception to this rule should be fresh fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods. Let them have as much of that as they like for free. Use this as a way to help them make healthier choices – the cheeseburger is $2; the bananas and apples are free.

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13. School events

It's important to distinguish between school events, field trips, and educational activities. As a parent, you should be paying for the latter. But the carnivals, movie nights, raffles, and other fun activities that are done outside of school should be paid for by the kids attending. These are fun events, and they can happen a lot. Encourage your kids to pick and choose which ones to attend by paying for them with their own money.

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14. Phone data plans

As a parent or guardian, the safety of your children is a top priority. These days, that means having a phone. However, a regular phone and text messaging plan is way cheaper than one that includes data, and honestly, data is not needed for safety. If you want to keep in touch with the kids at all times, by all means get them a phone and pay for the basic plan. But if they want to surf the web, watch YouTube videos, and download the latest games, they should pay for that part of the bill. As it can be a significant cost, they will probably be happy waiting until they get home to use your Wi-Fi access – or the free Wi-Fi that can be found at bookstores, libraries, and cafes.

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15. Late fees and finance charges

Books and media returned late to the library, missed deadlines for school event signups, or even late payments for subscriptions can all incur late fees or extra charges. If your kid is responsible for the mix-up, then it's on them to pay the fine – or negotiate it away. For older teens with a credit card, a missed or late payment can result in fees, a bump in the APR, and perhaps ongoing credit card debt. This is one area you might have to step in to help with either the money to pay or a loan (no kid should be saddled with credit card debt, even if it's their own fault!), but not until they've exhausted their own resources getting it solved.

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16. Unnecessary school supplies

Of course you should pay for the essentials. However, little extras that their friends have are not part of that supply deal. Pens that smell like cherries and watermelon, erasers in the shape of cartoon characters, extra-large tubs of gum, or a pocket folder with The Avengers on it. You get the idea… Cover the needs and let the kids pay for the wants.

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17. Their own rainy-day fund

Learning to save early, and often, is an important lesson to teach your kids. You can make it fun as well. For older kids, help them set up a savings account and show them how to make regular deposits. For younger kids, get them a fun piggy bank or a jar that counts the coins as they're put through the slot. Ideally, give them a goal – something to save for that they really want – and then find a visual way to represent the money they've squirreled away. They will find it fun to color in a chart and see the progress they’ve made.

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18. Yearbooks and spirit wear

It's nice to look back on school memories and wear the colors of the school. It isn't a necessity though. If the kids want the tie-dyed school jerseys and customized letter jackets, then they should pay for them. The only school clothing you should pay for is a school uniform, if it’s mandatory, and anything needed for physical education or other classes. And the yearbook… it's a memory for them. They should be excited to pay for it.

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19. Cosmetic piercings and tattoos

Whether or not you approve of piercings and tattoos – the law in most U.S. states prohibits body piercing and tattooing children under 18 years of age – this is another purchase that falls into the want category rather than need. Go ahead and sign the waiver, if required and you approve, but don't sign the check. Their body; their money.

This article was originally published on Wise Bread.