Discuss: Are your kids recession-resistant?

Here's a pair of dueling news reports:

1. The Associated Press says: Spending on kids is often the hardest expense to cut. It claims that in the declining US economy, parents will curtail their own luxuries before cutting back on their kids' clothes and toys.

2. The New York Times says: As yard sales boom in hard times, sentiment is the first thing to go. The article is about the boom in garage sales as people lose their homes, but the first paragraph focuses on a mother selling her 3-year-old's tricycle for $3 while the child is still riding it.

I doubt young children realize most of the time when Mom and Dad are cutting back on them. Short of not having enough food to eat, kids accept their situation as normal and adapt. But as adults, we don't have the same luxury of being completely okay with our plight.

My own household is in a nebulous middle ground. My wife and I each went from full-time work to part-time so we could spend more time with our kids during their first few years. Our budget has been tight since then.

Don't get me wrong. If a super job came along for one of us, we'd take it, but when our first child was born, going part-time made sense for us.

I've become adept at garage sale scouting and monitoring thrift stores. But I think I was so frugal to begin with that I'd be balking at paying full retail for kids' clothes regardless of my salary. For toys we're doing okay and we're absolutely spoiled when it comes to books.

One thing that has changed is that I look at products I buy for my kids as important social or educational tools. However, if I buy, say, a movie on DVD for myself, I view it as unnecessary extravagance.

I'm curious about you, dear Thinga-readers…

Assuming you're watching your budget more closely these days, have you cut back on spending for your kids or shielded them from it? It's got to be especially hard if you have an under-1-year-old at home because the impulse to buy, buy, buy is strong.

Secondly, will your gift giving be different this holiday season?


6 Responses to “Discuss: Are your kids recession-resistant?”

  1. Sara says:

    I think for some kids, it gets ingrained early that new is the only good thing, but I think that’s very much a factor of how the family is. I was talking about a movie with my then 4 yo niece, and said how nice it would be to watch it with her. First response was, “Maybe you could buy it for me!” I said that maybe we would rent it some day when she visited, only to get rebuffed that buying it would be better.

    October 31st, 2008 at 10:44 am

  2. Sara says:

    My son is only 3 months old, but so far, we are going to consignment stores, thrift stores, craigsliset, etc. first when looking for baby stuff. We have been fortunate to get lots of hand-me-downs, and I LOVE the little consignment store near our house for toys. We are hoping to raise our son to understand that life is not about getting what you want, but wanting what you’ve got.

    October 31st, 2008 at 11:50 am

  3. AJ says:

    Two comments? Faux pas? Are most US-based Thinga-readers affluent and safely shielded from the recession?

    October 31st, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  4. Magda says:

    We have a month-old baby and have received much more baby stuff than we could have expected. We’ve bought a few things (like a nursing pillow, and the fabulous Milk-Saver (new product, from mymilkies.com), and a couple of pacifiers … but people seem to keep giving us things, especially my sister who is thrilled to get baby things out of her house.

    Of course, my husband and I are of the opinion that *we* are the best toys for our son, and there are other fascinating things like, say, his own hands, which he should feel free to explore before being completely surrounded in plastic hand-me-downs. I remember the best toys from childhood being things like giant boxes. I come from a family which doesn’t throw things away, so I may be able to get my Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs (which my father bought at garage sales) from my parents’ attic (my Legos are already at our house, but I don’t have to share them for a few years yet).

    October 31st, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  5. Jen says:

    Recession proof? HA! I think most of these readers are just far more practical than the average bunch of American parents. Sure, I buy things for my kids… but I buy them second hand more often than not. And if I buy something brand new? It’s often sometimes we’ve discussed and debated for well over a few months to see if it’d be worth it.

    As for clothes, we have far too many as a result of yard sales, hand me downs, and doting grandparents. They’ll keep well to pass on to someone else.

    We don’t necessarily spend more on our kids than ourselves, but then again, we just don’t spend a lot of money that we don’t view as necessary… (for instance, good, fresh, healthy food is a necessity for us… getting a new toy or book or piece of furniture is not).

    November 1st, 2008 at 8:24 am

  6. Hope says:

    We have been very lucky with our two kids, now 14 and 26 months. We have had to buy next to nothing for them. Our clothes are supplied by friends with older kids, and everything else was bought by friends and family. That being said, we are hiding our money under the mattress because of the recession. Nothing but necessities are being bought.
    As for the holidays, as an extended family we have decided that we wont be buying any gifts this Christmas. Instead we are going to a dinner theatre as a family.

    November 2nd, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Post a comment

(will not be published)