What to do if your kids are making you poor

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Moneyrecently took a look at a couple -- the father earns six figures per year -- that's finding itself in a precarious financial position. And a big part of the problem is the couple's reckless spending on their pre-teen children: video games, clothing, ski lessons, etc.

The average upper-income family spends $182,000 on their children -- before they hit 18 and head off to college. Studies have shown that parents are more likely to slap down their plastic to indulge their kids then they are to spend on themselves.

The Money piece has some great tips and I would strongly suggest reading it if you're finding your kids bleeding you dry. Here's my advice: Once a kid hits 14, he can get a job and pay for his own video games and Abercrombie, if he so desires. So when it comes to curbing reckless discretionary spending, we're really talking about the pre-teen years.And here's the thing: 12-year olds don't need Abercrombie clothes and $100 sneakers. They're too young to be dating anyway. I know, everyone else has them. Explain to young Johnny that everyone else's parents are going to spend their golden years eating Alpo out of the can on a soiled seventies shag carpet in a studio apartment on top of a pizza parlor -- and that's not a sacrifice you're willing to make so he can be one of the cool kids in middle school. And remember, the less cool you are in middle school, the more successful you tend to be later in life.

As for video games: tell your kids they can play them at friend's houses. This will save you time and money because you won't have to cook pasta for all of Junior's bratty little friends so they can eat it in between marathon sessions of Halo 3 -- Let the rich parents (and by rich I mean loaded with debt) handle that.

Expensive extracurriculars? Forget about em'! Kids need to develop more creativity, and they can do that by inventing fun stuff do on their own -- with their friends -- without $300 video games or ski lessons and play-dates and air guitar lessons.

If you feel like you have to spend money you don't have to get along with your kids, boost their self-esteem and give them constructive things to be occupied with -- I think you have to wonder about the values you're instilling in your children.

For a list of some inexpensive gifts that are actually good for your children, check out my mom's post.
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