Your Kids Suck

We Think Your Kids Suck! Here is Why. 

Your kids suck money out of your wallet, your bank and investment accounts and your retirement. Let us tell you why this hurts your long-term financial plans.

We were at a BBQ in the mountains the other night. We hadn’t seen many of these people since last summer, some even longer ago. The house was beautiful with picturesque views of the mountains and trees. We grilled, had several versions of potato salad and more than our fair share of sweets. Our contribution was our poor man’s sangria and blue cheese and bacon potato salad.

It was fun to catch up, learn what’s new and what’s going on with everyone. Time with friends and family is always extra interesting for us because we are inspired with blog post ideas.

While we ate our main course, someone at our table told us that their eight year old granddaughter is in youth soccer for eight weeks at the cost of $2,000. Next year her other granddaughter will be old enough for soccer and cost the parent $4,000 for both kids.  Our mouths dropped and we immediately looked at each other as if to say, “This is a blog post!”

We’ve commented before on the seemingly non-stop wheel of activities kids are put on these days. Until middle school, John participated in soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring. From middle school through college, he was in both summer and winter swimming. Due to religious reasons, David’s parents didn’t allow him to be in any after school activities.

Read this post to invest in your kids

From our recollection from the 70s, 80s and 90s, this was pretty standard. Some kids were in activities, some weren’t. Kids who were in activities were in one or two. There were exceptions, of course. Every school or town had “the star” athlete or performer who everyone knew would “make it” some day. In reality, they were the ones who had the best chance to become the few who made it. The rest of us just wanted to have fun and play. Our parents wanted us to learn basic life skills, such as competing, playing with others, sharing, winning and, yes, even losing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for whatever reason, is the government agency that tracks the cost of raising a child from year to year. They’ve done this for decades. Their 2012 report, the most recent year for which the data are available, said that the cost to raise a child from 2012 and for the next 17 years would be about $241,080. Adjusted for inflation, that is a 3.5 percent increase from 2010 and a 23 percent increase from 1960. The only line items in America to increase more than the cost to raise a kid are college tuition, healthcare and CEO salaries.

Also Read: Is Dining Out Killing Your Budget?

Child care and education in 1960 was estimated to be about 2 percent of the cost to raise a kid, while in 2012 it was 18 percent. Other factors related to raising kids have increased, too, such as housing expenses because putting three kids in one bedroom a la The Brady Bunch style is grounds for a visit from Social Services.

We don’t have kids and aren’t in the position to tell others how to raise their kids. We are in finance and do know that most people aren’t prepared for college or retirement and many are overextended financially. We, also, know the value of a dollar. We are, also, not anti-kids. We are pro letting kids be kids and Mom and Dad avoiding the poor house.

As with every financial decision, parents should do a cost/benefit analysis. If your kid is interested in an activity or you want to introduce them to one, determine if it makes financial sense to let them participate. Ask yourself these three questions:

1. What will my kid get out of this activity?
2. How much will it cost to sign up?
3. What are all the peripheral costs, such as transportation, uniforms/costumes, private lessons, camps, etc.?

If your kid is interested in multiple activities, prioritize the list of activities. Determine which better suits your kid for an organized activity and which better suits your kid to play with the neighborhood kids in your backyard.

Some of John’s best memories are of playing stick ball at the dead-end of his street as a kid. A sawed off hockey stick and tennis ball were all the equipment necessary. With at least six kids, there was a game. Old Mrs. Nielsen didn’t appreciate it when home base was spray painted on her driveway entrance, but she got over it and the kids learned not to spray paint home base on Mrs. Nielsen’s driveway. Spray paint home base on The Fike’s driveway. It was gravel and home base could be kicked away when the game was over.

Should kids be in after school activities? Yes, if they want to be. There are definitely benefits. Should kids be on a non-stop wheel of activities indiscriminate of cost? No. Get out of the helicopter and let kids play outside without structure. Not only will this save Mom and Dad some money, even if the occasional window is busted, but it will teach kids to explore, be creative and learn life lessons that Mom, Dad, coaches or teachers can’t teach.

An unstructured pick-up game in the back yard with a partially deflated soccer ball can teach its own life lessons and save Mom and Dad money to help pay for college or to pay for their own retirement.


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Comment List

  • Jennifer Roberts 23 / 07 / 2014 Reply

    Time is precious, and I try not to overschedule my family. This summer is the first time my oldest (he’s 6) has been in any formal extracurricular activity. He’s doing swimming lessons at a public pool, and it costs us $1.50 per lesson. Over the years I’ve seen how unstructured playtime is one of the most important things I can give him. He has learned so much through playing and using his imagination. If I noticed a particular talent or passion, I would do what I could to help him develop it, but so far his interests have been all over the map, and rather fleeting.

    • John Schneider 23 / 07 / 2014 Reply

      That’s great to hear. We love to hear about his fleeting and diverse interests. It make us reminisce about the fun we had growing up and being able to discover and explore our imagination. BTW, that $1.50 a day on swimming lessons is a great deal. Is that at a local YMCA or county facility?

      • Jennifer Roberts 23 / 07 / 2014 Reply

        Yeah, I think it’s a tremendous deal! It’s the city pool in a neighboring city. If we were residents, it would be even cheaper.

        • John Schneider 24 / 07 / 2014 Reply

          Nice! Great to search out the deals, especially when you consistently save a few bucks. Have a great summer with your little one.

  • Elizabeth 26 / 07 / 2014 Reply

    How true! Here is one for you. I heard, at the hairdresser, so it must be true, her Grandson is in a hockey league and it cost $5,000 a season. It is a traveling team so you know there are many more added expenses for those trips. This women was the Grandmother and she said they are on a fixed income and they can’t do this much longer. The boy is in high school. CRAZY!

  • Maria Nedeva 29 / 07 / 2014 Reply

    You know what? Amazing as it is, I played the same game in Europe. Even more astoundingly I did play the same game in Bulgaria (a very small place next to Greece). There were no expensive activities – we were a group of kids, between 5 and 12, and played outside all day long during the holidays.

    My son is growing up slightly differently, but we are not paying thousands on football clubs. We try to ensure that we have ‘happenings’ together – we play tennis at the park (free or very close), go for bike rides and he plays rugby at $4 per session (we help with the sandwiches and the tea). He has computers and hame consoles but…when he went on a web board for kids and told them not to winge about the presents they got because life is not about that, the other kids told him that he is probably very poor. He laughed and explained about values!

    Kids are as much of a suck on your finances as you allow them to be. And let’s face it: the innate purpose of life is not to pile up money but to reproduce the species. I know we’ve outgrown that but couldn’t resist :).

    The best thing today is that people have choice: to have children or not, to spend a lot on them or not.

    • John Schneider 30 / 07 / 2014 Reply

      Maria, thank you so much for your comment. It was both encouraging and humorous. I think most of us 30 years old or older grew up outside. We loved it and learned to use our imaginations.

      Cheers to you for teaching your son values. It’s great that he understand the life is not just about things, but that they have the place. Plus I think that it is amazing that he had the guts to share his thoughts on it with other kids.

      We love children and have a number of friends with kids who are wonderful. Plus you are absolutely right, it really is a choice. If you can and want to provide all the activities for your children that is great, but don’t jeopardize your or your child’s future so that they can play and ultimately don’t let it ruin you financially.

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