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Cancelling DC activities unless they pay

(35 Posts)
PhoebeMcPeePee Sun 04-Jan-15 13:52:28

We are skint - live in a decent house/area etc but absolutely no money leftover each month & after a not excessive christmas are now £2.5k overdrawn (we were £2k overdrawn before to be fair).

We've drawn up a strict budget but have nothing left for DC's activities so asked them whether they would mind having a quieter term without so many clubs as we need to stop spending so much money but with the option of continuing if they use their own money (each have c.£400 in the bank). DH & I don't have a problem with this as there's simply no money left let alone finding £450 for a term's activities in the next few days (£140 for 2 x swimming lessons, £85 for 1 x piano & £220 for 2 x martial arts).
Both will continue with football as we paid for the season in September & scouting pursuits as these are much cheaper & we've already made camp committments/payments.

FWIW aside from cutting food bills etc I will be swopping my weekly exercise class for a run/bike ride & DH has given up smoking (day 4 so far so good smile and we won't be going out anywhere for the foreseeable future so we are all making sacrifices.

My parents are shocked that we have involved the DC in our financial predicament and also asked them to choose between stopping an activity they enjoy or using their own savings to keep going. They've offered to pay for one activity which is great but it got me wondering whether we did the right thing having this sort of conversation with children age 5 & 9.

MrsTawdry Sun 04-Jan-15 13:58:33

Well..you can't afford the activities. So it's a no brainer. Many, many families can't. You're not alone. My DC only do free activities. I wouldn't have asked my own DC this question...I'd have simply told them this is how it was...

BlackeyedSantaStuckUpAChimney Sun 04-Jan-15 13:59:13

no, no, you keep paying after all you could keep getting into debt.... and having the bailiffs at the door and risk losing your house

one activity each is fine. all activities could be taken up again later when you have more money. keep the activity that they are most likely to suceed at? or possibly the one they enjoy the most, or the one which comes with the least extras.

AlpacaMyBags Sun 04-Jan-15 14:01:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

brokenhearted55a Sun 04-Jan-15 14:02:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CinnabarRed Sun 04-Jan-15 14:02:28

I wouldn't have given them the option of using their savings - the 5 year old is too young to understand the value of money and therefore can't make an informed decision, and it's not reasonable in this scenario to let the 9 year old continue when the 5 year old can't. I'd have nixed 'em all for a term.

mrsminiverscharlady Sun 04-Jan-15 14:03:05

I would go as far as asking them to choose their favourite activity to continue with, but I wouldn't ask them to pay for the others. They're just not old enough to understand the implications what you're asking them IMO unless this is a short term measure and you have a plan of how to afford to pay for them in future.

MrsHathaway Sun 04-Jan-15 14:03:07

9, yes, but I think tricky for the 5yo.

I also think the overdraft is not their problem. You chose to spend £500 more than you had - that might be a reasonable choice, but it was yours. You don't say what it went on (food? outings? presents?) but you as adults set those budgets.

I don't think there's anything wrong with telling children you can't afford xyz and they need to choose. But I am a bit uncomfortable about how you've done that.

It also sounds like they were very busy before Christmas (Scouting, swimming, music, martial art) so they won't be missing out.

A 5yo doesn't have a sufficiently competent understanding of large numbers or of time to choose whether or not to spunk his savings on a term of piano.

CinnabarRed Sun 04-Jan-15 14:03:21

And they are still doing soccer and scouts, so it's not like they have nothing to do.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Sun 04-Jan-15 14:03:24

How old are the DCs? I'm not sure you need to be asking if they "mind". You should just tell them that you can't afford the activities and that that's the end of it.

KitKat1985 Sun 04-Jan-15 14:06:34

YANBU. They are still doing football and scouting so are hardly without extra-curricular activities. I also don't think it's a bad things for children to understand what things cost and that parents can't afford everything. If they choose not to use their savings to pay for the activities then they probably weren't that interested in them in the first place.

Patilla Sun 04-Jan-15 14:06:57

My kids have always used Christmas money to supplement their swimming lessons. Granted they sometimes didn't even realise. Now that DS is old enough I would do the same as you if he had the money and wanted to pick up an activity that we couldn't afford. At present he just does swimming and one day at the after school
Club (his choice he loves it) and he knows we don't have the funds to do more.

Teaching children that money isn't unlimited us a valuable life lesson. Helping them assess the relative values of something and whether they want to pay for it will stand them in better stead for becoming and adult rather than simply getting everything they want.

I think you're doing fine. And good luck with sorting out the overdraft. This Christmas was the first one we didn't overspend by loads - we pretty much broke even thank goodness, but that was after a year of sorting out our budgets and saving for stuff. It's been hard work but was completely worth it. Hope you manage to do the same.

RabbitSaysWoof Sun 04-Jan-15 14:07:03

I would have told them too.
There's no point you trying to control your spending then allowing dc to carry on spending from the same purse.
I think these extra activities are seen as more important than they really are now, I wouldn't be able to send my dc to every club going I don't feel guilty he can choose the 1 or 2 that he wants to do the most.

teacher54321 Sun 04-Jan-15 14:08:55

Do you not have to give a term's notice for all these activities anyway?

OmnipotentQueenOfTheUniverse Sun 04-Jan-15 14:13:07

I don't think you've done anything at all wrong in being honest with them that you can't afford all the activities.

I don't think it's a good idea to ask if they want to spend their savings though as what happens when their savings run out? It's a bit of a short term solution and as others point out they won't be thinking long-term especially the 5yo! They will be worth more in the longer-term really than to blow on a term or 2 of activities.

I would say thank you that's very kind to my parents and let them pay for 1 activity for each. From a practical perspective are you going to want them to choose the same though ie the swimming or the martial arts as presumably they go together and you aren't going to want to be ferrying one and having the other on your hands if they choose different ones IYSWIM? Or is that going to be OK?

PhoebeMcPeePee Sun 04-Jan-15 14:13:24

The extra £500 over spend in December was a combination of usual £50-150 monthly deficit (hence £2k o/d), about £200 on Christmas inc modest presents for all plus food & drink then a couple of unforeseens such as pricey dental treatment and all new footwear (trainers, school & wellies) for ds1.

5Foot5 Sun 04-Jan-15 14:20:50

I don't think I would give them the option to use their savings, I would just tell them it would be a quieter term. After all, it sounds like before they were doing football, scouts, swimming and martial arts plus piano for one (9 year old?) which is rather a packed schedule.

Though if your parents were offering to pay I would be tempted to accept just for the piano - but that is personal preference.

CinnabarRed Sun 04-Jan-15 14:21:11

That all sounds fixable with the belt-tightening you've already agreed. Particularly your DH's stopping smoking - good man! - wishing him every luck with that. You should be able to restart more activities fairly soon - perhaps next Autumn term.

simbacatlivesagain Sun 04-Jan-15 14:22:38

Seems like an excessive amount of stuff to do anyway- when do they just get time to 'be'.

I dont think that you should make them pay as that delays but doesnt solve the problem. Cancel them all- you cant afford them and without these activities you would have a balanced budget each month.

PhoebeMcPeePee Sun 04-Jan-15 14:23:12

And no of course they don't need so many activities - dc1 started most some years ago when we had much higher incomes & dc2 has just tagged on to the same in the past year but actually we probably should have stopped dc1 rather than adding dc2 hmm

we've been naive and grossly optimistic about our income & current/potential earnings thinking we were managing but there's always something 'unforeseen' to tip us over our budget & we need a big shift in spending before it gets any more out of control.

simbacatlivesagain Sun 04-Jan-15 14:28:15

Scouts and 1 sporting seems fine. Piano if they really adore it (and are any good or love it so much that they practice for hours a week) ?

You can continue with those paid for now but when they end give them a choice, football, martial arts or swimming?

Maybe pay for the 5 year old to swim if they cant yet but no hurry for that- can wait a while.

TalkinPeace Sun 04-Jan-15 14:33:34

You need to bring YOUR spending choices back under control.
Using up your childrens' savings for a term or two of what you still cannot afford is silly.

Cut the activities back to those that give the best value for money
and learn to live within your means
for the long term good of your children

leave their savings intact

florentina1 Sun 04-Jan-15 14:34:09

I think what you suggest is sensible. My daughter was in the same situation. The paternal GPs gave the children money at Xmas every year which had built up. I do not see using this money for their activities rather than on toys as a bad thing.

They are teenagers now, very good at managing their money, and appreciative of what they are given.

As they got older, if they wanted things like designer trainers, they used their own money for the difference.

I am sure that your children will learn a good lesson from this.

Vvvoom Sun 04-Jan-15 14:40:25

I am stopping activities to economise too, but I just told my kids that was what was happening. I decided I would use their savings to pay for the one remaining activity but in reality it's too much hassle to take the money out - I just used one's birthday money in the end.

Mine don't have much interest in their savings - I don't tell them how much they have so we couldn't have the conversation. But I think I would rather make the decisions for them. I don't think what you've done is wrong though - I have told mine we are economising and that there's no money for extras.

Artandco Sun 04-Jan-15 14:42:17

I would just drop them. That's a mad amount of activities, when do they get time to just play after school, of run in park etc.

We can afford many things, but have always had a max of x2 activities a week. Generally one has been a sport, and one music based.

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