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26 Aug 2011

6 things families can't afford and why they should do them, anyway

My daughter and I, overlooking the Biennalster and downtown Hamburg.
My daughter and I, overlooking the Biennalster and downtown Hamburg.Credit: Marcus Herdrich, Marcus Herdrich
By Kelly Herdrich
I recently read an article about how more parents are holding off on having kids because of moneywoes. People across the Internet were quick to counter -- there will never be enough money to have children. They're right. Kids are expensive, even if you live the simplest life. But whether you make a hundred or a thousand dollars a week, you may never feel like it is enough.

It isn't just children that are overwhelming our budgets. In fact, there are many things families will never really have enough money for, but should do anyway.
Go on vacation.
Vacation costs can add up. From your means of transportation to meals and activities, family vacations aren't cheap. That doesn't mean you should cut them entirely from a tight budget. Family vacations are what memories are made of. Make time for a big family vacation at least every few years. You won't regret it.
Get a college education.
College costs are rising. I can't even imagine how much it will cost by the time my three daughters are ready to enroll. I want to help them in every way possible, though. A college education is worth every penny. Get one for yourself. Save for one for your kids.
Fly first class.
The first class ticket isn't cheap, but it's an awesome experience. It's really worth the extra cost on a long flight. Extra room and extra attention can be worth the extra dollars. Do it once with your kids when they're old enough to appreciate, enjoy, and respect it.
Buy organic.
You don't need to buy all organic, all the time. There is a benefit to organic, natural, or healthy food, even if it adds a little to your overall grocery budget. Shop the farmer's market and support local farms. Grow your own fruits and vegetables if you can. Think outside the standard grocery store box. You're kids will learn from your example. Teach them there's more out there than fruit snacks.
Leave the country.
Don't just fly first class across the country -- actually leave the continental United States and see the world. Don't let nerves or money hold you back from the opportunities across the globe. If you've always dreamed of seeing Paris, Rome, Greece, or London, do it now. Don't put it off until retirement or until you have enough money to do it right. Those days may never come.
Find a hobby.
In a tight economy, it can be hard to find the money for extras. However, if your children have interests at a young age, it's equally hard not to nurture them. Find money in the budget for extras like soccer, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, gymnastics, ballet, or piano lessons. Look for options at your local recreation and parks department, which may be less expensive. But if you can't, don't rule them out completely. Limit children to one activity a season if they express a real interest. It's worth the extra money to nurture their talents.
What items do you and your family splurge on, even though you can't really afford them? Why?
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