My daughters are spoiled. And to a certain degree, I’m okay with that.

But here’s what I know—there’s a line between a “spoiled” child and an “entitled” child. And that’s a line I have not always navigated with precision. In fact, I have given in to whining too often, and made many ill-advised purchases/downright stupid decisions all in the name of “giving my kids more than what I had growing up.”

(Insert a self-directed eye-roll here.)

Now—let me assure you that my husband and I are tucked well within the “middle class” demographic. We are both fulltime employees who also hustle our trade on the side in our “free” time (you know, when the rest of the world is sleeping). We’ve collected no windfalls, inheritances, or lotto wins.

We have a budget.
But sometimes, I spend like we don’t.
#CreditCards #Debt #HideTheAmazonBoxes

About seven months ago, we moved our family across the county and bought a much smaller home. It was during said move that I realized just how much JUNK we owned. So much so that we had to rent a dumpster just to get rid of it all.

And after we filled up that dumpster . . .

Two dumpsters and several trips to the landfill later, and I was completely disgusted with myself and my indulgences.

We decided then and there that our family had to make a change. We had to minimize. For the sake of our bank account and the sake of our hearts. I realized that I was justifying a lot of my spending because it was for the kids. They “need” stuff—right?!

So I did a little soul-searching. I realized that often, when I have the impulse to purchase that brand, or that toy, or that outfit for my kids, I did it for one of three reasons:

1. Because it’s easier to say yes to my kids than it is to say no.
2. Because I’ve seen someone’s kid with the same item and compared my family to theirs.
3. Because I am parenting out of childhood wounds and not personal conviction.

Wow. There’s some heavy stuff going on when it comes to how I view material possessions and my children.

My realizations were not groundbreaking. I think most parents overdo it from time to time when it comes to our kids. And our intentions aren’t completely shallow or misguided—we want to give them things. We love them. We like to see them happy. These are not the worst principles to act on.

But that doesn’t exempt me from needing to show self-control. Not it when it comes to what I buy them, what I feed them, or what I do for them.

Over the last few months, I have set up some personal boundaries when it comes to how and when I decide to buy things for my girls:

1. No means no.

When my kids ask for something and I say no, if they ask again the response is: “You’ve asked and I’ve answered. If you ask again, there will be consequences.” They may drag their feet the rest of the time we’re in Target, but they know I’m not budging.

2. Celebrate others’ resources.

Instead of scrolling through Instagram and showing my husband pictures from so-and-so’s FIFTH DISNEY CRUISE THIS YEAR and demanding he tell me how in the world they afford such luxuries, I have made an effort to tame the comparison-monster that lurks in the recesses of my heart.

To combat my greed, I try to practice active gratitude. Good for them, I’ll say to myself. “Looks like so much fun, guys!” I’ll post. God, thank you for all you’ve given us, I’ll pray. (And OKAY – I may still wonder idly how people go to Disney more than we drive through Chick-Fil-A, but I think that’s probably natural curiosity more than a character flaw . . . right?!)

3. Teach my kids that hard work pays off.

We’ve recently started giving our girls the opportunity to earn money through paid chores. (These are tasks done on top of normal household responsibilities that we expect everyone in our family to complete.) Through this process, we have learned that our kids—who are 9 and 5—are capable of so much more than we thought. They can sort laundry. Fold towels. Vacuum carpets. Wipe down surfaces. Organize toys. They can even unload the dishwasher. Now, any time our girls are “bored” or “don’t have anything to do but watch TV,” we’ve offered them the opportunity to do chores for money.

Now, when they want a toy or treat while we’re out, I’ll tell them the price and say, “That’s about 10 loads of laundry right there. If you think it’s worth it, we can bring your money back tomorrow.”

At the end of the day, we can’t force our kids to be grateful. I’ve seen people grow up wealthy turn out to be just as humble as those of us (like me) who come from very meager financial backgrounds. There’s no formula for how to “spoil” a kid the right amount.

For now, I’m focused on modeling hard work, decisive spending, and intentional gratitude.

What about you guys? What do you do to monitor your spending when it comes to your kids?