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  1. #1
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    Jun. 14, 2006
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    Default Hoping to get this in under the wire....explaining money to kids.

    Is there a good way to explain to kids (teenagers) that money doesn't grow on trees?

    Husband and I are again down to one income. I was the primary bread winner for the last few years and no one wanted to acknowledge this so lots went on credit cards. But bio mom and dad seem to want to keep the kids in the world of "we have plenty".

    Well, we do have plenty for the basics. But we don't have enough for me to say...go shopping (which I abhor anyway) or for us to buy the gifts they want. SD14 wants a laptop. SD13 wants ugg boots. And they want us to get their mom a 300 dollar necklace for her bday and a 600 dollar system for Xmas.

    We can't afford it. We just can't. I have to buy all the Xmas gifts for everyone in his (huge) family plus mine this year.

    I don't shop. My jeans have been mine for 12 years. Hubby needs some new, he's down to one holey pair. We cannot afford to spend several hundred on gifts this year. Our cost of living went up and our income went down. How do you start teaching kids about money without making them feel badly? I grew up without much so it's kind of in my DNA. I mean, we moved into a home without HEAT. And we had crackers and ketchup for dinner sometimes.

    I don't want the girls to know that EVER if I can help it. But they do need to know that we can't spend 500 bucks on gifts for each person.

    I tried to explain this week when they were here that our RENTAL home costs 3 times what our big house back in MI cost. Plus I'm not working. I tried to be cool when I showed them I was coloring my own hair instead of going to a stylist. (hate! but know I need to!)

    I tried to show them when I had to ask dad for money to go grocery shopping that we are on a tight budget.

    But they still want a computer and UGGs for Xmas.

    Help. Dad WILL try to give them whatever they want. PLUS whatever they want for mom. The gift they want to get their mom (I buy the gift from them to Mom and from them to Dad) is way beyond my budget. WAY. Like hundreds beyond.

    How do you have that conversation? I'm trying to be "light" about it so they don't think we're in dire straits...but frankly...we just CAN'T spend what they want this year. I am afraid people are going to blame it on me. THe funny thing is that no one in the family knows that I am the only one who had an income the last few years. I've been scrimping and saving to give them all that Dad wanted to. But now that I am not working....I can't.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
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    We found that DD (now 10) was getting into the I Want Everything mode. We started giving her an allowance. She earns her money by doing her chores. She can then spend HER money on whatever she wants. She'll ask me for stuff, and I'll ask if it's important enough to spend her money. She rarely says yes.

    This summer, we got to a point where we had to reevaluate some things. I sold my horse. She was a part of those discussions. She knows how much it costs to keep her horse, to go to shows. It's something she needs to learn. since your situation has changed dramatically, theirs will need to as well.

    You can also check out the resources on Dave Ramsey's website for good ways to educate kids/teens about money.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  3. #3
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    Nov. 26, 2006
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    Minnesota
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    How old are they? That greatly affects your conversation.

    In terms of the gifts, my parents told me the limit they were willing to spend once I was old enough. I could ask for black tall boots, but I needed to find a pair that was under $150. OR they would tell me they wanted to spend around $50, and I could make a few requests that would add up to that amount. My family was always very open with the amount to spend.

    I was also given the amount that I could spend on gifts for others, which usually broke down to around $20/per person. If I wanted to buy a $50 shirt for my sister, then I needed to figure out how to balance that against making dinner for my grandma and cleaning the house for my mom.

    My parents did this with pretty much everything. I was given a budget and allowed to figure out how to spend it on school clothes or meals out. I could buy a pair of Uggs if I only needed a few shirts to buy on sale at Old Navy.



  4. #4
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    You're doing them no favors to not explain the whole truth to them. Do you have a budget? Show it to them. Let them help you make it ... they want more money for presents, it has to come from somewhere... where do they suggest?

    Definitely suggest looking into Dave Ramsey's tools and suggestions for talking to kids about money.
    ************
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


    7 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Jun. 14, 2006
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    14 and 13 and they WILL NOT WORK. Will not babysit, we've offered them jobs around the house and they don't do them to completion. they have no desire to earn their own money because they've been given everything. They are not spoiled brats--they just have never been truly made to earn their way in any way shape or form.

    But at their ages, I had to pay for half of anything I wanted. And 100% of my horse expense. I started working young I guess.

    I don't want them to feel like they are poor. We're not poor. I just need them to understand that I can't pay child support AND buy them a gift for Mom that is 600 bucks and a gift for DAd AND a gift to each other AND a gift to the other 22 people in their family. I can't. I cannot.

    I want a good way to have a talk about it.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  6. #6
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    Apr. 11, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    IWe can't afford it. We just can't. I have to buy all the Xmas gifts for everyone in his (huge) family plus mine this year.
    With 5 siblings we went to a gift draw for the siblings and wives as well as one for all the cousins. It is a great way to go! The other option is to make a single donation to your favorite charity or a meaningful one for the family and do it in their names. Or baked goods. Or a write a letter saying something kind and thoughtful.

    It is crazy, just crazy to spend gobs of money for gifts for all the different people in your families. You don't have to do it. Really, you don't. If you want to make the holiday's meaningful you can and you can do it with out breaking the budget! Be brave!

    +1 on Dave Ramsey and put them on a budget. The budget thing is important regardless of whether you are flush in money or not!


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  7. #7
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    May. 15, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    Husband and I are again down to one income. I was the primary bread winner for the last few years and no one wanted to acknowledge this so lots went on credit cards. But bio mom and dad seem to want to keep the kids in the world of "we have plenty".
    Start with having the conversation with Mr BuddyRoo first, because if he isn't on board the kids will never, ever, get it.

    Have to ask, why is it that no one in the family knows you were the only one who had an income the last few years?
    where am I, what day is it, am I still having a good time?


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  8. #8
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    Mar. 10, 2007
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    Montana
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    My kids are a pretty mature 12.5 and 15... money has always been tight for us so they are pretty well used to the "we can't afford it" response though I have always tried to say it more in a "that is too expensive" sort of way, deflecting blame maybe? I do resent how much some things cost, it gets frustrating to see such high price tags on things that maybe I don't think is worth it. But anyway...

    My kids do a lot of work around the house and we give them money, not necessarily linked. We give them a cut of the family income I guess, I don't take away their allowance as a punishment, they can rely on getting it. They both do outside work as much as possible and save their money.

    They have grown into a better understanding of cost/expense and budgeting as they got older. It is what it is-when they were younger they didn't think anything of spending all their Christmas money on expensive things for themselves. Now over the last couple years they've started saving it and choosing to keep the money and wait for a bargain on the goodies. I think maturity helps.

    and it helps to let them spend all their money and be wiped out and not bail them out too. When it's gone it's gone and they have to save up again.

    I've always told ours we have enough money to take care of everybody but have to watch it on the spending. We aren't big spenders ever so that helps, we never have been about having a lot of gifts and usually just do one big gift and have a big fun family get-together. We're not material minded-maybe in your situation try to steer the entire event in that direction so having minimal gifts is just part of the big picture. Think about appreciating what you have that doesn't cost, think about the people that have lost everything and have no presents this year, think about being practical and restrained about big spending... talk about things like that.

    There isn't much to teach-money runs out and that's it. If you spend it all on Christmas it's going to be impossible to pay the bills ten days after Christmas and that can't work. People have to pace their spending, it's a fact. If you eat all the food on the first day of a camping trip you don't have any to eat the rest of the time. I think things like credit cards muddy those clear waters. Make it be clear.



  9. #9
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    I think it's time to stop pretending, and tell them the truth. If anyone get their panties in a bunch (or boxer shorts) then tough. The world out there is rough enough, without a bunch of credit card debt or loans in your name. They need to either get their own money, or get a small limit for gifts, and for heaven's sake, do a name draw for Christmas or do cookies or something. What's going to happen next year when you're overseas? They are old enough to know the truth, and if they get cranky tough.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    17 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Mar. 10, 2007
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    Montana
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    14 and 13 and they WILL NOT WORK. Will not babysit, we've offered them jobs around the house and they don't do them to completion. they have no desire to earn their own money because they've been given everything. They are not spoiled brats--they just have never been truly made to earn their way in any way shape or form.

    But at their ages, I had to pay for half of anything I wanted. And 100% of my horse expense. I started working young I guess.

    I don't want them to feel like they are poor. We're not poor. I just need them to understand that I can't pay child support AND buy them a gift for Mom that is 600 bucks and a gift for DAd AND a gift to each other AND a gift to the other 22 people in their family. I can't. I cannot.

    I want a good way to have a talk about it.
    ETA change your tone about it, it isn't that you CAN'T do that because that implies that you really want to. How about you won't do that b/c it's excessive and you're not into making Christmas all about money. just don't think that way any more.

    They're old enough to know the differences between the households. at your house you have to work if you want some money. At your house you don't blow a lot of money on gifts at Christmas, you focus on other things. Make it a quick lesson and stick to it (hopefully the Mr is firmly on board), still have fun but don't let them get into lamenting about gifts or expensive items, that's just the way it is and let the conversation and your actions move on to something positive and fun, go outside, go sledding or play with the dogs or something that doesn't cost MONEY.

    I get really tired of the constant pressure in our society to spend spend spend. You really don't have to and the best way you can have a conversation with them about that is to lead by happy example. Just have fun, cook a great meal all together and don't let the topic of money enter the picture. change the subject-we're not spending a lot of money so we don't need to talk about it.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    First of all, I think it's fine for them to know that you were super poor once. You got out of that and if they find themselves in a tough spot one day, they can too.

    But secondly, why would you even WANT to buy them a laptop or UGG boots?? They can go get a babysitting job and buy THEIR OWN. If they are too young to work they can get a moderate allowance and SAVE UP. Let THEM figure out how to save for what they want.

    I grew up with very wealthy parents with a 7 figure household income and they felt absolutely NO compunctions about not buying me stuff. I bought my first horse when I took a summer job during college to save up for it. I bought my first car with my own money that I earned. I used my own money for entertainment (movies, trips) from age 16 onward and to this day have NEVER ONCE called and said, "X crisis happened, I need such and such." Sometimes they are randomly very generous but it is never asked for.

    First and foremost I would set an allowance that you can easily afford without sacrificing anything for yourself, and let the kiddos deal with surviving on that. If they want to blow it on UGG boots, fine. If they want to buy super ugly hippie dresses (which I did much to the dismay of my parents) fine. But no more money is forthcoming if they run out. Too bad, so sad.

    If they want more things than their allowance affords them, they can go figure out a babysitting job or work retail. This applied in a 7 figure household and nobody felt guilty about it and the explanation given wasn't "we can't afford it, let me JUSTIFY to you why I am not buying your UGGs and plead with you to please understand", it was "Yeah, sure, WE can afford it just fine, but if YOU want it, YOU work for it. The end."


    19 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Your problem is their dad won't back you up and you wind up looking like Scrooge. You were wrong when you didn't let them know that you were the sole breadwinner for the past couple of years. Dad should have explained the situation to them then and let them know that they weren't going to get everything they wanted and not had you put a bunch of stuff on credit cards just to soothe his ego. Why the heck are you buying an expensive present for the ex wife? That is ridiculous. I can see some inexpensive trinket, but a $600 necklace? That's uncalled for and Dad should back you up. Not to mention, why are you buying presents for 22 other family members? When things are tight, you buy for the kids and hubby and everybody else can suck it up. Their dad, not just you should be explaining the situation to them. Things are tight around here. My daughter gets one "big" present and that's it. I don't charge Christmas presents. I have x amount to spend and that's it.

    Now about the stuff they want. Do they take care of their things? If they do, then you might could justify spending the money on a laptop and the Uggs. I've been looking at a laptop for my DD and I've found a couple for around $300. I've found Uggs on line for around $130 and Uggs last forever if they are taken care of. Not to mention there are Ugg knockoffs called BearPaws that are about half the price of real Uggs. If I got them those presents, that would be it. Nothing else except maybe a few stocking stuffer type things. And there is no way in Hell, I'd buy their mom a freaking thing. You are wrong when you say these kids aren't spoiled. They are spoiled. Their dad needs to step up and not make you the bad guy.

    As far as telling them about money, tell them the same things you've told us. I'm a single parent and my daughter knows what "I can't afford it" means. It's as simple as that. We aren't poor, but we don't have a lot for frills either. My child understands this.


    9 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    14 and 13 and they WILL NOT WORK. Will not babysit, we've offered them jobs around the house and they don't do them to completion. they have no desire to earn their own money because they've been given everything. They are not spoiled brats--they just have never been truly made to earn their way in any way shape or form.
    Your definition of spoiled brat and mine are different I guess. Put them on a work/chore related allowance NOW and stick to it. Period. They will whine and cry and probably blow their $$ quickly and expect you to cover the difference. Know that going in and be prepared for tough love.
    ************
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


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  14. #14
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    If you don't keep them in the loop on the household finances on an ongoing basis, it will be harder for them to accept limitations when they want something, and it may come across as you just not wanting to spend money on something they want.

    What if you approach it from a "We both think you girls are old enough to be included in some of the family decisions. As you know we have had some changes which have resulted in less income and more expenses...blah, blah, blah." Then continue with "this is how much is in our budget to spend on Christmas this year, and these are the people on our list. Together let's decide how we want to budget for gifts."

    When I was growing up our parents included us in conversations about renewing the mortgage, sacrificing this so we could pay for that and so on. These weren't stressful conversations, just this is life conversations.


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  15. #15
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    My brother and I have had stocks and bank accounts since we were tiny kids--Mom used to make us do graphs of our stocks and track them so we could understand that the money doesn't just magically appear and what goes up does not keep going up in perpetuity. We also learned from early on that those tax forms Dad did were ours, too, and we had to pay them, too. I honestly don't remember allowances or not, but I got cash from somewhere so I must have. (We didn't do jobs. Our jobs were go to school and rack up activities that looked good on college applications.) School clothes and things like that, parents paid for, but that meant Mom went along and PAID (helped that neither of us knew the difference or cared about brands and shops.) If we wanted to buy a present for someone (Mom, Dad, whatever) that meant we had to buy it, with our own cash, which meant that we didn't have that money for anything else. Having the horse meant no asking for expensive presents or vacations, either. I don't remember it every being spelled out straight up, but we were always aware that none of this was free and there was no infinite money supply. If I went to the mall with my friends, and I had $20, and I blew that before we got to the movie, I blew it. I did NOT get to have a credit card or anything like that before college. (And even then, it was expressly clear that was NOT for blowing on anything I felt like buying. My parents saw every statement, they'd know.)

    I think it was just the culture of our house--bills got paid off every month and you did NOT go into debt, and that's how it was. Asking to "buy" a $600 present would never have crossed my mind. That was a LOT of money in my mind (it would probably have been expressed to me in terms of months of board for the horse.)


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post
    If you don't keep them in the loop on the household finances on an ongoing basis, it will be harder for them to accept limitations when they want something, and it may come across as you just not wanting to spend money on something they want.

    What if you approach it from a "We both think you girls are old enough to be included in some of the family decisions. As you know we have had some changes which have resulted in less income and more expenses...blah, blah, blah." Then continue with "this is how much is in our budget to spend on Christmas this year, and these are the people on our list. Together let's decide how we want to budget for gifts."

    When I was growing up our parents included us in conversations about renewing the mortgage, sacrificing this so we could pay for that and so on. These weren't stressful conversations, just this is life conversations.
    What exactly is wrong with telling a kid, "I don't want to pay for this just because YOU want this?" Did I miss something where parents are obligated to get the child's approval and understanding first before they ixnay an expenditure?

    My parents "just didn't want" to spend their considerable money on a lot of things. I survived. And got a job!


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    14 and 13 and they WILL NOT WORK. Will not babysit, we've offered them jobs around the house and they don't do them to completion. they have no desire to earn their own money because they've been given everything. They are not spoiled brats--they just have never been truly made to earn their way in any way shape or form.

    But at their ages, I had to pay for half of anything I wanted. And 100% of my horse expense. I started working young I guess.

    I don't want them to feel like they are poor. We're not poor. I just need them to understand that I can't pay child support AND buy them a gift for Mom that is 600 bucks and a gift for DAd AND a gift to each other AND a gift to the other 22 people in their family. I can't. I cannot.

    I want a good way to have a talk about it.
    BuddyRoo you are a good person. A giving, caring person. But you are giving your heart and soul and it is too much. I understand you love your DH, and his DD's. The part I bolded is just so over the top, plus a previous post where you note that you supported the whole family for several years.

    Child support his HIS responsibility. Yes, as his wife, you are part of that, but where I bolded above, it sounds to me like you are bearing most of the burden.

    You want to give them everything. You can't. If you gave them $1000 last year, they will want $1200 this year. and more next year. You are not helping them to grow and mature, you are enabling them to stay little princesses because you don't want to be the evil stepmother. That is a nice fairy tale world, but we don't need any more spoiled princess in this world, we need functioning, self supporting members of society, that will take personal responsiblility for their actions.

    You need to set boundaries, both you and DH. Give them a certain amount each (in the hundreds, not thousands) to spend on Christmas. If they chose to spend every cent of it on Mom, so be it, THERE IS NO MORE. No matter what they say, do, threaten, whatever, stand firm. There is No More Money. If they need more, they must earn it. Your husband must back you 100% on this. If he won't ask HIM where the money is supposed to come from.

    You and DH should not be going into debt for these children. Not for something so superficial as a holiday. For college or health issues, yes. But really, this is one of those defining moments in their lives.

    I second the notion to show them a budget. I sat down with my pre-teens and did basically the same thing. I certainly didn't list everything, as not all was their business, but I said we make XXX, it costs XX for groceries, taxes, insurance, etc. It helps.

    Being a parent is hard. Being a Step-parent is harder. Especially if the bio parents are pushovers, and it seems in this case they are. Good luck to you.

    I hope I don't regret posting this to you, I really don't want to hurt your feelings, but you need a wakeup call.
    OLD FRIENDS FARM-Equine Retirement-We LOVE Seniors!! Spoiling Retirees since 1998
    http://www.angelfire.com/oldfriendsfarm/home.html
    Charter Member of UYA!


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  18. #18
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    Absolutely go to dave ramsey. The most important thing he teaches is the budget. Name every dollar. Once you see on paper what money you have to work with, and what needs to be spent, its so easy to see, even tho some may not want to believe what they are seeing. Budget budget budget.

    You dont do kids any favor by making them feel entitled, by making them feel they get things just because they are here on this earth. When kids have to earn their own money to spend on what they want, they are much more attuned to the value of a dollar. Easy to spend someone elses money....their own money? not so much. They will take these money lessons into their adult life, this is a perfect time to teach them. It may keep them from getting so deep into debt fresh out of school, with no way of getting out.

    Dave Ramsey!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
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    BuddyRoo, I'm in a similar situation raising teens that aren't mine (hubby and I got guardianship of family members). They came from a less than stellar situation, but hubby and I agreed from the get-go we are not enabling, sheltering or otherwise molly-coddling. Even as bad as these kids had it, they frequently come down with a case of the "gimme's."

    I have no qualms telling them what it costs to live. They need to know. They are teens! They are going to be doing this on their own soon (God, I hope!). It's no different than the birds and bees conversation. Awkward at times, but so, so very much worse if you avoid the conversation.

    Here's how much I make a month. Here's mortgage, utilities, food/cleaning/supplies/other necessities, car payment, insurance, blah blah blah. There's x left. That's why you can't have x, y, and z. Once you spell that out, they quit asking. They understand that the money is gone towards necessities. If they refuse to have a work ethic, they get nothing. DO NOT reward laziness. It does you no favors, but is actually crippling them. The cold, hard world will hit those girls right in the face if you don't let them fall on it now. It'll only be harder later.

    Lastly, they NEED some perspective. Mine went on a mission trip with the church over the summer. I'm thinking about making them volunteer at a local homeless shelter. They NEED to know how some people live. They NEED to know that no matter how bad it seems, many have it so much worse. If they're still brats after that, well then they're beyond help.


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  20. #20
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    I understand that it was a mistake not to tell...but he didn't tell any of his family either, so I couldn't exactly tell the kiddos. It's tricky. He feels like him not making money was such a disgrace. IT wasn't. Iw was MICHIGAN and the ECONOMY. But whatever. We're here now. And he has a good job. But I don't.

    I made it pretty clear as we chatted today that they need to come up with some 30-40 dollar gift options as we are on a budget. I've been making that statement several times this weekend as things come up. I know I sound like the scrooge, but Dad wants to do whatever he can and Dad doesn't get that we have bills apparently. I dunno.

    No, they' don't take care of things. Ever time we've bought something prciey it's been lost or broken rather quickly.

    I am not buying a laptop nor Uggs. She already ahd the knock off ones. (she has grown a LOT since last year. 6 inches actually. And 3 sizes in feet. So she does need new shoes, just not 200 dollar ones. But Mom insists on the brand name. And if we buy an off brand, Mom makes a big deal about how we're cheap and it's crap.

    Quote Originally Posted by wireweiners View Post
    Your problem is their dad won't back you up and you wind up looking like Scrooge. You were wrong when you didn't let them know that you were the sole breadwinner for the past couple of years. Dad should have explained the situation to them then and let them know that they weren't going to get everything they wanted and not had you put a bunch of stuff on credit cards just to soothe his ego. Why the heck are you buying an expensive present for the ex wife? That is ridiculous. I can see some inexpensive trinket, but a $600 necklace? That's uncalled for and Dad should back you up. Not to mention, why are you buying presents for 22 other family members? When things are tight, you buy for the kids and hubby and everybody else can suck it up. Their dad, not just you should be explaining the situation to them. Things are tight around here. My daughter gets one "big" present and that's it. I don't charge Christmas presents. I have x amount to spend and that's it.

    Now about the stuff they want. Do they take care of their things? If they do, then you might could justify spending the money on a laptop and the Uggs. I've been looking at a laptop for my DD and I've found a couple for around $300. I've found Uggs on line for around $130 and Uggs last forever if they are taken care of. Not to mention there are Ugg knockoffs called BearPaws that are about half the price of real Uggs. If I got them those presents, that would be it. Nothing else except maybe a few stocking stuffer type things. And there is no way in Hell, I'd buy their mom a freaking thing. You are wrong when you say these kids aren't spoiled. They are spoiled. Their dad needs to step up and not make you the bad guy.

    As far as telling them about money, tell them the same things you've told us. I'm a single parent and my daughter knows what "I can't afford it" means. It's as simple as that. We aren't poor, but we don't have a lot for frills either. My child understands this.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



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