The Associated Press has a story that’s been picked up by media outlets across the country: “Spending on kids often hardest expense to cut.”

You’ll find it on page 3D of Sunday’s print and e-editions of The Monroe Evening News. If you’re not a subscriber to my paper, I also found the story at WTOP News. A snippet:

As Americans struggle through a tough economy, spending on kids is often the last thing to go, for reasons both practical and emotional.

“Some people will cut their medications before they’ll cut spending on the kids,” says Candace Corlett, president of the consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. She says her group’s research shows 39 percent of adults — parents and non-parents — plan to cut back on adult gifts this holiday season, so kids in their lives can have more.

Some tips on the miscellaneous kid expenses:

  • Don’t take kids shopping with you, especially the younger ones. I’ve been told that shopping trips are a good occasion to teach kids about colors, nutrition, math, comparison-shopping techniques, you name it. But when shopping budgets are greatly restricted, don’t aggravate the situation and allow the children to see things in the store that you can’t afford. Exception: if you have trained your child well to assist with looking for bargains, well, then bring him or her along.
  • Limit exposure to advertisements for toys and commercial foods. Maybe you plug in a video, rather than turn on a TV channel, for entertainment. Maybe you hide the toy catalog as soon as it arrives. They might see an advertisement at a friend’s house for a toy you can’t afford. But at least the kids won’t see the same commercial over, and over, and over again.
  • If money is tight but you want to continue the childrens’ activities or programs, look for any way to cut the expenses or get financial aid. You don’t have to be a welfare family to get help paying these expenses – it all depends on the grant, scholarship, sponsor’s bequest or foundation rules. I have a post that specifically talks about kids’ sports expenses.
  • Pick your financial battles. You know you can’t pay for everything the children want to do – so figure out which one or two activities or events the kids really, really want to participate in. That’s where you focus your money (and fundraising efforts, if needed). Anything else they want to be involved in has to be low-cost.
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