Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide – Learning to Say “NO” to Our Children.

Learning to say “no” can be a really hard thing to do. As Moms (and Dads) we often overextend ourselves with friends and work by not telling people no, and on the surface happily saying “yes” to extra work, errands and more. We hear all the time to learn to say “no” and not get taken advantage of, that our time is precious, and to not overextend ourselves.

What about learning to say “no” when finances are involved? Especially with our children, and ourselves. The very people we don’t want to tell “no” to.

I love my children dearly and want them to have the things that they need and of course the things that they don’t need, but really want. They are good kids, and as far as I am concerned, they are pretty great people. But, they have too much stuff.

When I was a kid, I didn’t dare ask for toys and things for no reason. It had to be around my birthday time or Christmas. Maybe my parents remember differently, but I knew I wasn’t getting anything until there is a reason. I didn’t have designer clothes or even clothes from a store in the mall, they were clothing from either Walmart, Kmart or Target if I was lucky. At Christmas, I would search for the gift from my Grandmother because I knew it was clothing from a department store, was probably a name brand and had matching pants or jewelry. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t have money to spend on us, they just were really good at saying “no”. Plus, I didn’t need any of it.

Candy and treats are another area that I am starting to say “no” to. We didn’t get treats at school and we especially didn’t get the bags of candy that my kids do now from school, stores and friends. After sporting events that we played in we got orange slices and a bottle of water. Not the Capri Suns and full size snacks we see now, and recently one kid came home with a paper gift bag full of snack packs and candy. I thought someone had a party, no it was the snack a Mom had brought for after the game. I could not imagine what that must have cost!

Saying “no” to my kids is hard. I WANT them to have stuff and be happy. But “stuff” doesn’t make them happy, it makes them want more stuff, and think that they should just get more stuff all the time. Plus, it is more to clean up and wash, and I hate yelling at kids to clean up!

Recently one of my kids texted me when I was on my way home from a meeting. She was able to text me because she had an iTouch, granted something she got for Christmas, but still she is only 11. *I* don’t have an iTouch! She wanted me to stop and pick up a pair of white sweat plants that she could wear to school the next day because all her friends were going to match. I was already going to Walmart and so in the store I found the pants they were *only* $6 and as I stood there I thought to myself,  I need to say “no.” I knew she wanted to match badly, and as a Mom I hate to see my kids unhappy, but by not saying “NO” even to the little things I was feeding this spending monster we were creating in our kids.

I could ramble on and on about the things our children are not learning now days that they should be. By buying them EVERY little thing they ask for all the time, we are creating kids who are going to be financial messes when they get older. As young adults they can easily spend themselves into bankruptcy thinking they need every pair of white sweatpants or shoes that comes along.

Saying “no” to our kids doesn’t mean and isn’t showing them that we don’t have the money or can’t afford something. It means that we are trying to teach them something. I have stopped saying “I don’t have the money for that”  and have started saying, “you don’t need that” or explaining that I am choosing to spend money on other things, OR SAVE my money because in 5 minutes they will have forgotten all about it.

As much as we love our kids, we are not doing them any favors by not telling them no, even on the little things. I think that we are getting nickled and dimed to death buying things we don’t need.

This is written for ME. I am learning everyday and realizing some mistakes I have made along the way. Hopefully you can take something from it, and maybe this applies to your family as well.

As part of our families Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide, my husband and I are saying “no” to our kids MUCH more. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love them, we are trying to make them more responsible financially and SAVE money on the little things that add up!


  1. Toni says

    Well said, it is hard to say “no” to them… especially in this community where most parents seem to say “yes” for anything and everything there kids want ;), children seem to think that money and material things = Love.

  2. Kim K says

    Thank-you for the back-up and reassurance! I have thought about this topic myself recently and have been starting to say “no” more often.

    Example from a couple weeks ago:
    My 16 yr old does her own laundry (for the most part). She forgot about her clothes in the dryer and I needed to put my wet laundry in so I decided just to lay her clothes flat over the back of the chair until she got home from school. She had about 20 shirts in this load of laundry! I couldn’t BELIEVE how many she had just in this ONE LOAD! I have taught her well how to shop the clearance racks and her favorite store is Plato’s Closet. That’s where most of it came from, but does she really NEED that much? She just asked last weekend if I could take her to Plato’s Closet. I had a flashback to what she already had and told her “No, you do not need any new clothes right now” and reminded her about the load of laundry I recently helped her with. She wasn’t happy with the response, but I knew I did the right thing.

    • Tiffany says

      That is a perfect example. I feel the same way. They are good kids and I buy all of their stuff really cheap, so sometimes I think I overbuy because I am not paying full price.

      I am glad your daughter does her laundry. Mine older ones do also.

  3. margaret says

    wise wordds. and your kids will thank you one day!
    Thanks for tackling a subject that may not always be popular.

  4. Whitney says

    I also remember not asking for stuff either unless it was around my birthday or Christmas. I say mom and dad have it wrong… :)

  5. nicole says

    I couldn’t haven’t said it better myself….I am currently kicking myself for over buying at xmas just because stuff was cheap/cute…my kids are already bored with alot of it…if I had trusted my gut and gone with only what I knew they’d love ( or the want/need/wear/read rule) I would have saved alot….I just didn’t want our tree to look bare underneath…and as a kid I don’t remember all the extra treats/gifts for no reason…or lavish parties for that matter…so as much as I hate the word “NO” from my 2yr old I will be saying it more now…..

  6. kimberly says

    I hate trends but oh in high school you have to fit in and be like everyone else and I do remember I had to have the penny loafers and my parents got them for me. HA HA I dont think they were cheap either.

  7. Lelee says

    This is so true and it is so hard to do. Building character is difficult. Stay strong and know that you are not as mean as your kids tell you !! xoxo

  8. John says

    Great post, this is something that we need to be reminded of from time to time. Kids who are not told “no” become adults who believe they are entitled. My kids are not allowed to use the word “deserve”. They don’t deserve anything, they earn it!

  9. Tammy R says

    THANK YOU!!!!! It’s about time more parents say NO to their kids. I work at the local school kitchen I see every day kids sent to school with BIG bags of chips , cookies, second lunches.It just amazes me. As for giving into my kids for fancy clothes and shoes it just doesn’t happen.I CAN afford it but choose not too. I first shop at the thrift store then fill in with store bought.I find all the time at my Target Converse shoes for 5.00 to 10.00 for my teen girls.Thats what they like .If I find some a size bigger I buy and put up in the closet. I ALREADY have 3/4 of this next school yrs clothes for all my kids I have bought for less then what most of your readers buy for one kid for 4. I bought Levis and other name brands for less then 5.00 at the Salvation army. I shop a yr ahead. I have a 17 g,14 g,9 b,8b. So it can be done.I don’t fall into the name brand crap.Sorry but thats what it is. My kids do get snacks like cookies but they get 2,I always have fresh fruit and I limit sugar drinks to one a day if we have them.I survived without all that and I’m 50 so I think my kids will do just find. I have 2 older girls that are married they were raised like that also and they survived.LOL Say NO PEOPLE your kids will ok. LOL

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