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Can You Afford Your Kids

Raising Financially Savvy Children These Days Isn't Kid's Play

By Suze Orman

Hey, if you're parents, I bet I know what's going on in your bedrooms.

Financial Nightmares. Right?

Any parent facing the prospect of keeping their kids clothed, healthy, well-educated, and maybe just a little bit spoiled is looking at some scary costs. That's even before we start talking about college, where tuition today tops out above $20,000 a year at many private schools - and who knows what it will be when your little Einstein is 18.

But then that is not news to you. You knew that having kids would cost you a bundle; you probably just thought you would have more money in that bundle to cover things. If your kids are busting your piggybank, what are you doing about it? Well, I am sorry to say that many of you are pulling a classic avoidance move. Faced with having less than you need, you console yourselves by spending even more!

You know I'm right. Some of you are unable to save for your own financial future, but rather than devote yourself to building a stronger financial base, you're spending a ton of money on your kids' whims and desires. Why? Because you are crazily consumed with the idea that what your kids wear or have around them is a reflection of what sort of parent you are. For, God forbid, what would the neighbors think about you if your kids showed up at their home without the latest designer-brand sneakers, dungarees, or t-shirts on their little bodies? You bad parent you, how dare you not show everybody how great you are by the clothes you put on your kid's back.

Folks, this is not exactly intelligent behavior.

I cannot tell you how many emails I get from parents, especially single parents, who tell me, "Suze, I am not sure I can afford my kids anymore. I give them everything they want, and I am losing sleep and having nightmares because I don't think I will have enough money to retire." Bingo! You at least got that one right. If you focus on your kids' wants and neglect your needs, you will certainly end up in financial trouble. And the saddest part is that your troubles sooner or later will become your kids' troubles as well.

Is Your Kid's Greatest Fear About Money The Possibility of Having to Support You?

Even your eight-year-old might say yes! About a year ago, I was in a suburb of Chicago visiting a lab school there and speaking about money to a classroom of eight-year-olds. This school was expensive to attend, about $5,000 or more a year. So you would think that parents paying that kind of tuition for an eight-year-old would not have money worries. Which is why I was so shocked by what happened. more...

The Four Secrets to Affording Your Kids!

1. Stop impressing people you don't even know
I know you have heard me say it before: it is ridiculous to spend money buying things you can't afford, to impress people you don't know and may not even like. more...

Article also contains:

  • Money does not grow in ATM machines
  • An allowance is not your kid's birthright
  • Don't be a financial faker

'Til Debt Do Us Part!

Okay parents, if you're at the point where your kids are about to get married, congratulations! You have been through a lot, if you ask me. And I know you are thinking if you can just get over this one last financial hurdle, you will be financially kid-free for the rest of your lives, and can start saving for your own future. I bet that feels good ... but let's not forget that half of marriages end in divorce. more...

Budgeting for Children Checklist
To keep yourself on track to healthier personal finances, start here by printing out this checklist of important to-do's when budgeting for your children.

Start Now!

Suze Orman has been called “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” by USA Today. She is the author of four consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including The Road to Wealth. Suze Orman, a Certified Financial Planner Professional®, directed the Suze Orman Financial Group from 1987-1997, served as Vice President of Investments for Prudential Bache Securities from 1983-87, and from 1980-83, was an Account Executive at Merrill Lynch.

Watch Suze every Saturday night on CNBC. Check for TV listings.

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