Let’s be clear, raising a family is an unbelievably expensive business. But it tends to be parents, rather than grandparents, who, on top of all the expenditure, waste the greatest amount of money on children. What follows isn’t a helpful article on ways to save money. It’s a simple reminder of the ways in which parents across the land needlessly spend money on their kids. Sure, parents wise-up financially pretty fast after the initial thrill of having a first new baby at home. But they continue to get fleeced when they’re out and about with their children over many years. It should be called the kid tax – it’s cash straight out of your wallet spent on something that your kids don’t actually need. Pay now, or there’ll be consequences. And don’t complain, because everyone will think you’re weak-willed, which in this case, you probably are.
So here’s some of GoMunkee’s worst culprits of the kid tax:
- NEW BABY Right from the very start, new first-time parents hemorrhage cash on providing the very best for their baby. From over-priced nursery furniture, toys for a newborn, clothing which will never be worn plus endless ‘equipment’ which will never be used.
- EXPENSIVE BIRTHDAY PRESENTS FOR CHILDREN UNDER TWO The facts are: very young children break things, they have no understanding of price and they have a small attention span. They can also be incredibly fickle. Year on year, children get more expensive to run, so put off the overspending whilst you can get away with it.
- LEGO. Over the decades, Lego continues to be an enduring part of childhood. All children like to play with Lego, but kids today think big. So why would a time-pressed adult want to spend £170 on a Lego Minecraft Village with 1200 pieces, (which he/she then has to build) when their child can create whole cities on Minecraft, quickly and for free? Keep it small and do-able (and inexpensive).
- EATING OUT This is particularly wasteful if kids have been stuffing their faces beforehand with sweets and snacks. Even when eating at home, some parents wonder why they don’t just cut out the middle man and tip freshly served food straight into the bin. Parents hate waste, so they end up eating leftovers/untouched meals (all the bad things like chicken nuggets, pizzas, chips etc), putting on weight in the process, and then having to go to weight loss classes to lose it). Ka-ching!
- DESIGNER/BRAND NAME CLOTHES FOR TODDLERS Mud, snot, puke, paint, food, drink, scuffs on expensive fashion items on children growing upwards and outwards overnight? Poor 3 year-old Barney can’t wear the Barbour jacket because it’s summer, and by the winter it’ll be too small for him.
- TAKING CHILDREN TO THE SUPERMARKET Sometimes it just has to be done, but it’ll cost you. It’s practically impossible to walk down all the supermarket aisles pushing a trolley without having to pay the kid tax. Maybe you can get away with just a lollipop, but you could get stung for an Xbox game or all that cartoon-branded food – from Peppa Pig yoghurts, to Disney Princess cakes or Darth Vader Coco Pops. Too many temptations, and you can’t scream because you’re in a public place.
- EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP Yet another retail gauntlet for the hapless parent to run comprising tempting, useless, overpriced tat to squeeze out more ££ is the gift shop. This materialises after you’ve already been fleeced for petrol to get to there and back to the attraction, entry tickets, lunch, ice-creams and photos of the family enjoying the ‘experience’. How many plastic swords, bouncy balls, teddy bears, tins of fudge, pencils, names for bedroom doors, plastic animals and baseball caps does one family need?
- BUYING REFRESHMENTS AT THE CINEMA. Many people don’t mind paying the 2750% mark up on popcorn. But hang on. Apart from the negative health connotations, who really wants to spend another £8+ per person, after purchasing expensive tickets, on branded ice cream, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and fizzy drinks? And miss the first ten minutes of the film standing in a never-ending queue?
- CHRISTMAS. ££££££££££££££££. Nuff said.
It’s a combination of love, guilt and pressure. Spend, spend, spend your way through parenting. Most of us are short on time (not just money). Sometimes, staying home can end up costing more than going out. Since we tend to be reactive rather than proactive, why not let GoMunkee suggest new and exciting things for you to do with your children, some of which are free? You could save £££.
Oh, and if you need any lessons on thriftiness – talk the the children’s grandparents.