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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


Challenge: Your child is pleading with you for the new iPhone. Should you say “no” when you can afford to say “yes?”

You’ve worked hard and you can afford the new phone for your child. And in the past, you’ve provided for your children as best you can. But where do you draw the line? It’s a highly emotional subject – after, all who doesn’t want to be the coolest parent going, and who doesn’t want the best for their children? Defining what that means to you makes the difference in how you respond to your child’s request.

My perspective is purely opinioned-based, but I have always drawn the line between investing in my children’s growth and indulging in unnecessary consumption. Paying for your child’s education is an investment. Buying the new iPhone is a rewarding consumption. But it is not as simple as a case of financial tough love that comes out of nowhere, when you have said yes so often in the past. In a perfect world, by the time they’re asking for the new iPhone, they know where you stand. The values you want to instill in them should be taught over time and not over a single purchase.

A few tips for parents:

1. Facilitate financial conversations that focus on transparency and fairness.
2. Be inclusive in your style of discussing money, expectations and intentions.
3. Try to model the real world as best you when it comes to work, reward and compensation. Allowances and bonus payments for performance are a good way to start.

Saying no to your child financially when you can afford to say yes may be the life lesson that goes far beyond not raising spoiled, entitled children. It allows children to problem solve. They also learn to recognize they can’t have everything they want, when they want it, and that they won’t always have newest gadget, which is okay.

You might actually be giving your child a better gift than the new iPhone: the gift of resourcefulness. If they want it badly enough, they might surprise you in coming up with ways to pay for it. And that will make you a way cooler parent in the long run.