At 10, Grace Morgan is a young fashionista and takes pains to dress in the latest styles. But her mom, Amy, works part-time and her husband was recently laid off, leaving little room in the family budget for designer-brand clothes.
So Grace didn"t ask her mom to open her wallet this fall to buy clothes. Instead, she sold a stack of her own old jeans and shirts at a rummage sale and paired the proceeds with discount coupons to get the stylish jeggings and tops she wanted for school, says her mother, of Lake in the Hills, Ill. Grace is learning "we have to make choices with our money," she says.
The cost of raising kids is continuing to rise. A middle-income family can expect to shell out nearly a quarter of a million dollars, or $222,360, to raise a baby born in 2009 to age 18, according to the Department of Agriculture. That is up about 1.4% from 2007, before the recession began -- and it doesn"t include college costs.
Now, amid tight household budgets and a growing belief that today"s youth will face a lasting drop in their standard of living, many parents are working to reshape children"s expectations. The result is "a massive, painful shift" in behavior, as kids learn to economize or work to pay for consumer goods they want, says Jason Dorsey, an Austin, Texas, consultant to employers on intergenerational issues.
Ms. Morgan is teaching Grace and her brother Noah, 13, to resist consumer pressures. "We very openly heckle" such shows as "My Super Sweet 16" on MTV, ridiculing such excesses as when a teen receives a Mercedes or opulent vacations, she says. Both children have learned to enjoy inexpensive family camping vacations, and they sell items on eBay to raise cash for purchases. "The joke around our house is, if it"s not nailed down, they will sell it," Ms. Morgan says.
Still, Grace insisted on going to Justice, a specialty chain for tweens, for back-to-school clothes. "She could have gone to Wal-Mart and gotten much more," Ms. Morgan says. But "you have to close your eyes and zip your mouth" to let kids learn to make choices.
In the past, money talk was taboo in many families, and many parents sheltered children from financial realities. Parents "want everything to be just great for our families. It"s hard sometimes" to set limits, says Gina Maione Earles, chief executive of Mothers & More, a 4,100-member networking group, where teaching kids money skills is a popular topic at meetings.
But fewer families can afford to indulge their kids; 24% of parents made back-to-school shopping budgets with their kids this year, up from 18% in 2006, says a Capital One survey of 500 households.
Telling a pre-teen or teen you can"t afford something usually doesn"t work, says Susan Beacham, founder of Money Savvy Generation, a maker of educational products for kids. "Kids are very concrete" in their thinking, she says. "If you say at the mall, "I can"t afford those shoes," then go to a grocery store and spend $150, they don"t understand the difference. They will just think, "There she goes again." " A better approach is to give children a budgeted amount for necessities and require them to stick to it and account for their spending, she says.
养育孩子的成本在继续增长。据美国农业部(Department of Agriculture)说，一个中等收入家庭要把一名2009年出生的孩子养到18岁，需要支出222,360美元。这较本次经济衰退开始前的2007年增加了1.4%，而且这其中还未包括上大学的费用。
艾米正在教格雷斯和她13岁的哥哥诺亚(Noah)抵御消费压力。艾米说，我们非常公开地质疑MTV上诸如《我的16岁花季》(My Super Sweet 16" on MTV)等节目，当节目中出现一名十几岁孩子得到一辆奔驰汽车或外出豪华度假的机会时，我们会奚落这份过分的慷慨；我家的两个孩子都学会了享受惠而不费的全家外出露营度假，他们会通过在eBay网上出售物品来筹钱买自己想要的东西。艾米说，她们全家津津乐道的玩笑是，如果家里哪样东西没有用钉子固定住，孩子们就可以把它卖掉。更多信息请访问：http://www.24en.com/
以往，有关金钱的话题是美国许多家庭的禁忌，许多父母会刻意避免让孩子面对财务现实。Mothers & More是一个有4,100名会员的社交团体，如何教孩子理财是其聚会上的热门话题。该机构的首席执行长厄尔斯(Gina Maione Earles)说，父母们希望家里一切顺心如意，有时很难给孩子设置限制。
儿童文教用品生产商Money Savvy Generation的创办人苏珊·比察姆(Susan Beacham)说，对一个十岁以下或十几岁的孩子说你买不起某样东西通常行不通，孩子们会非常固执于自己的想法，如果你在一家购物中心对孩子说买不起他想要的鞋，然后却在一家杂货店花了150美元买东西，孩子们是搞不清楚这两种花费间的区别的；他们心里只会想：真烦！比察姆说，一个较好的办法是在购买必需品方面给孩子一笔计划好的开支，要求他们不得超支并把支出情况记下来。
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