One of the best ways to save money in the long term is to learn how to say “no.” Saying no to spending can help you get your priorities in order, as well as keep your finances on the right track.
Many of us have little trouble saying no to ourselves — but the story changes when it comes to our kids. When you look into their earnest little faces, pleading with you to buy a toy or take them to the movies, it’s hard to tell them no.
However, the reality is that sometimes you have to. Here’s how to do it:
How to Say No to Your Kids
To let your kids know that “no” is a real possibility, you have to start setting expectations. This means you need to talk about money in an age-appropriate way around them. Part of this is talking with your partner, or with other members of the family, about putting off a purchase — this way, you’re letting your kids see that sometimes you are told “no” as well.
Also, start saying no at an early age. When kids know it’s part of life, it doesn’t come as such a surprise later on. And make sure you set up expectations before heading out. If you’re going to the grocery store, tell your child that you’re shopping for food for the week’s meals — and that you won’t be buying anything that doesn’t meet those goals. To set a good example, stick to your list and don’t make impulse buys.
Ask Your Child to Think About It
If you want to raise kids who think about money and motivations, you need to start by asking them why they want to make a certain purchase. Why do they want it and what will they do with it? Get your child to think critically about it, then discuss their reasoning together.
When we’ve taken this approach with my son, he’s often changed his mind and decided to save up for something he wants more. This allows him autonomy with his decisions — and frees us from having to say no.
In some cases, it makes sense to offer a less-expensive alternative to a toy or activity. If you can make it fun, it doesn’t matter if it costs a lot of money. My son and I like to go hiking or camping, which is fun and much cheaper than staying at a hotel or going to an amusement park.
You can also offer alternatives that allow your child to earn his or her own money. When my son complains that he wants a bigger allowance so he can “afford” something he wants, I remind him that he has alternative ways to earn money, and along with it, plenty of opportunities to reach his goals if he just makes the effort.
What are your ideas for saying no to spending on your kids?