Birthday Bash or Reality Bust

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There is nothing more exciting than being seven and getting an invitation to a birthday party.  What can make that invitation even more exciting is when it includes make-up, pizza, sparkles, and cupcakes.

The queen was recently invited to attend a party at a really great venue where for a price per girl there is lots of fun for two hours and the mom doesn’t have to clean and then re-clean.

A wonderful goodie bag came home with a price list and services provided list.  Of course the queen was on the throne explaining how her next birthday party had to be at the same place.

No problem, right?  Big problem.  The problem is it costs $22.95 per girl (before cupcake, juice box, food and lip gloss station).  Then there is the issue of number of girls in class, neighbors, and Girl Scout friends…that number can get pretty high.

We are a one income family of five with a teen headed to college in three years.  Are we completely strapped for cash?  No, but do have to pay attention to what we spend.  A trip to the grocery lately can easily set you back $150 and that is just for the everyday basics for four or five days.

The queen has come up with lots of ways to have this party:

  • invite but tell them they have to pay (NO),
  • invite, pay half, and they pay half (No),
  • not serve pizza (could help),
  • don’t serve anything to drink (probably not going to work)
  • give up allowance for two months (this will pay for almost one person)

Of course the queen wants to know how it is one family can afford this and others can’t.  Welcome to the world as the rest of us know it dear queen.  Your parents appreciate you are getting older but hey we want to retire someday too and preferably not to your living room sofa.

This week, the queen has decided it is time for me to go back to work.  I explained that my going back to work would keep me from volunteering regularly at her school and her Brownie troop would have to find a new leader.  She says it’s time…she’s in the second grade now and really what is it I do all day long while she is at school.  Something tells me she spoke to some kids at lunch and realized that some moms and dads both work.

There is nothing quite like a real life economics lesson slapped smack in the middle of parenthood.  That degree in business education comes in handy when dealing with these delicate issues.

My questions to all the readers out there…do you share with your children what the family can and can not afford or is willing to spend on activities?

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5 responses »

  1. At 15 and 11, my boys have an understanding of the finances. I don’t go into details on the exact dollars, but I am definitely not afraid to say “we can’t afford that right now” or “maybe next payday we will splurge on that”. I have been more candid the last couple of years, so they rarely ask for something completely ridiculous. Although birthday parties do push me over the edge annually with the younger one…why can’t we unite as parents and go back to the have a few friends over for cake and ice cream in the backyard instead of the $300 parties?! My 11 year old has never had a lavish party but he asks every.single.year!

  2. Amazing how much those teens eat, isn’t it? It’s positively frightening.

    As the kids get older, we’re more apt to explain why we are or aren’t doing certain things, and we’ve started to include points about how much things cost as well. I’ve noticed that the kids are pretty content with most things — it’s only when Friend A has an opulent party/video game system/car/whatever, then my kids want to know why we can’t just get one too. Guess the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality starts early — that’s why I think it’s good to talk about it.

  3. My kids know how much stuff costs, and how frugal I am. It is starting to show now when they will say stuff like, “next time it goes on sale can we get…” It is worth it to me to teach them the value of things, what money can buy, and how much we are over charged for items.

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