A note on spending for kids

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:54 pm

It seems at least some folks spend for their kids, sometimes to the point of budget strain, in hopes of rather specific outcomes.

i.e. Spending significant sums on sports activities (travel teams), music lessons, or the like, in the hopes that this will pay off in the kids' mastery of these topics, perhaps to the point of college scholarships or even professional careers.

I would advocate that parents think about their kids development generally, and their spending towards that development, more generally, and that often specifically targeted, high $$$ investments are long-shots, if the goal is a distinct payoff in some fashion for the kid at age 18 or 25.

There are a fair # of college athletic scholarships, overall, but often those come at schools that would otherwise not be top choices of the relevant kids, come with the implicit or explicit assumption of considerable devotion during the college years to athletics (at the expense of challenging academics), and are long-shots to lead to a pro career.

Music is similar. If your kid is interested in piano or violin at a young age, great! But overspending on the activity, or too much helicopter parenting to push relentless practice, is still probably not going to turn your kid into a future as a professional symphony musician. Yes, a few folks end up doing this, but it's a long shot.

I would encourage instead gentle nudging, geared towards the kids' interests, and in particular, emphasizing overall academics. A small handful of kids will pursue sports, music, or the like deep into their 20s, 30s, and beyond. But a larger percentage of folks will build on the reading, math, science, and other skills that they began developing during their youth, parlaying those into satisfying careers that can last into their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

No, sports, music and the like don't preclude academics, and in some cases, can complement them well. But at the margins, if you have to choose, lean towards the academics, plus social activities that lead to a well rounded, happy person.

Financial choices are part of raising kids. But don't feel undue pressure because of peers (of the parents or the kids). Extra books from the bookstore, some cheap cooking or sewing or art or math or science classes, some camping gear for family outings - these don't have to be wildly expensive. This is also relevant for those families debating if they can really have a 2nd/3rd/4th kid.

...Sermon over...
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

GCD
Posts: 1119
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by GCD » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:59 pm

Absolutely.

Here is an article from 2008 that lays out the dismal prospects for getting a college athletic scholarship. Most parents would be better off putting the private coaching money into a 529. Athletics should be viewed as an activity that is intrinsically enhancing rather than as a mechanism to fund college.

http://www.wcusc.org/docs/links/college ... -10-08.pdf

I have raised this issue at various times over the years with various people in admissions, etc. and they all agree that the gist of this article is still true, if not even more extreme than it was a decade ago.

ohai
Posts: 1327
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:10 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by ohai » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:06 pm

You gave some examples of inefficient spending on parenting. I'd be surprised if someone proved that there was no positive correlation between academic success, future earnings, and amount spent on education or activities during childhood. I don't know what is the efficient allocation - it depends on the child.

Arabesque
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:56 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by Arabesque » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:13 pm

I am ashamed to say that I mocked soccer mom culture until I had middle school kids. When I saw how bankrupt much of kid culture was (phone, mall, bullying, computer games), I formed a healthy respect for all the parents carting their kids to music lessons, sync swimming, robotics, Boy Scouts.

Most parents are not spending money with fantasies of magical transformations, IMO. They are showing their kids how to have healthy, social, participatory lives in the age of screen and consumer capitalism. We are fighting to preserve the arts and sciences, athletics and community as part of family life.

financiallycurious
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:43 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by financiallycurious » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:16 pm

Hard to argue that it is a good bet to make a financial investment in an expensive sport as a way to save money on college.

Where I and maybe others struggle is how much is a reasonable amount to spend on sports because they build positive character traits like discipline, work ethic, perseverance, grit, commitment and follow through, healthy lifestyle, social skills, leadership, etc., and provide access to good role models (coaches) and a good peer group? For example, assume a parent is already is making prudent choices related to other, higher priority things like maxing out retirement accounts, adequately funding a 529 plan, etc. Then what is a reasonable amount to spend on the kids activities? Is it worth it to spend on these activities if it delays your ability to retire before age 60, or if it means both parents have to work outside the home in order to afford them?

livesoft
Posts: 72114
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by livesoft » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:17 pm

Well, I agree that one shouldn't spend too much on their children, but a young woman that I have known since she played basketball in my driveway at the age of about 5 years old has been playing professional soccer ever since graduating from playing soccer at a D1 university (full scholarship). And another young woman I know of the same age plays her musical instrument in a European orchestra after graduating from The Juilliard School.

Somebody has to fill those jobs. :)
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

User avatar
FIREchief
Posts: 4599
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by FIREchief » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:30 pm

We paid for guitar lessons for DD because she really wanted to learn to play the guitar. Her only "gig" was in the church worship group. Did we waste our $$$?
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

jmk
Posts: 581
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by jmk » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:46 pm

Those other activities like clubs and music are valuable for self-esteem and later success. However, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get them if you are flexible. E.g. free local sports leagues or school teams, community orchestras, etc.
financiallycurious wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:16 pm
Hard to argue that it is a good bet to make a financial investment in an expensive sport as a way to save money on college.

Where I and maybe others struggle is how much is a reasonable amount to spend on sports because they build positive character traits like discipline, work ethic, perseverance, grit, commitment and follow through, healthy lifestyle, social skills, leadership, etc., and provide access to good role models (coaches) and a good peer group? For example, assume a parent is already is making prudent choices related to other, higher priority things like maxing out retirement accounts, adequately funding a 529 plan, etc. Then what is a reasonable amount to spend on the kids activities? Is it worth it to spend on these activities if it delays your ability to retire before age 60, or if it means both parents have to work outside the home in order to afford them?

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:49 pm

I guess my specific recommendations:

* Emphasize generalism, rather than specialization, for most kids, for most years up to about 14 or so.
* Even at 14, while some specialization may be necessary for some HS sports and the like, a whole bunch of OTHER activities are opening up that were less readily available before - drama, debate, school newspaper, academic clubs, etc. Give your kid space to try those things out
* There are some low dollar, high return options available from a young age that I don't see written about often. Books for youth are generally cheap - $5-10, perhaps $15. 2-4 books a month for your kid will cost you perhaps $200-400/year, which is closer to the MONTHLY (rather than ANNUAL) cost for many activities. But the ability to instill an interest in reading, and to let the kids' interest in different subjects roam widely, can have a pretty big payback. Yes, library books can work too, but if you can afford the relatively mild investment, it's nice to let them build a decent collection of books that they can keep, with the latest titles on subjects of their own interest (rather than the more limited, and likely older, titles that might be available at the library)
* A problem with investing heavily in specific objects (a pricey piano) or activities (pricey travel sports) relatively early is that there's likely a feeling that with a high investment, the kid should be pressured to stay with the activity, after natural interest has subsided or shifted. Try to scale into things gradually, where possible, and be prepared to "write off" some of these investments.

ohai
Posts: 1327
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:10 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by ohai » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:53 pm

Of course there will be a lot of "dead end" activities that don't have clear payout. First, you have to try many failed things to discover the kid's one area where interest and talent overlap. Second, even things that don't go far contribute to the kids' holistic development; even kids who don't become pro athletes will probably be more confident and successful socially if they have some sports skills.

alex_686
Posts: 6365
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:39 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by alex_686 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:04 pm

I think the academic evidence is on the other side.

The point of spending blood, money and tears on sports snd music is not that the kid will become a professional.

The point is that the child masters a hard skill, and thus develops habits that will last a lifetime. Need for practice, resilience in defeat, team work, leadership, etc.
Former brokerage operations & mutual fund accountant. I hate risk, which is why I study and embrace it.

randomguy
Posts: 9039
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by randomguy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:54 pm

No, sports, music and the like don't preclude academics, and in some cases, can complement them well. But at the margins, if you have to choose, lean towards the academics, plus social activities that lead to a well rounded, happy person.

...Sermon over...
Kids spend 6+ hours doing academics at school. Do you really need to be spending more time on academics than that? It should be pointed out that you can write this same exact article about focusing on academics to the exclusion of other things. 20 years ago this was a big deal in asian families in the bay area (the old B is an Asian F). Some of the articles were pretty much racism (kids had no personality only test score criticisms) but there is also the underlying reality that excessive focusing on academics didn't always get results. Kids broke down under the pressure and some rebelled. And of course some did fine.

I wonder if you survey adults, if there is a relationship between current levels of physical activity and sports as a kid. My impression is yes. I don't come across vary many men (there are a few more woman. I assume some of that is a result of woman not doing sports as much 20 years ago) when I am doing a physical activity that didn't play sports somewhat seriously (middle/high school level). I have a feeling that learning that physical activity is fun is something you need to learn early on.

For most kids it makes no sense to go all in on any activity. The tough part is when your kid is talented. What if your kid is one of the 3 best soccer players in your county and they live soccer. How much time/money do you spend having them maximize their talent. The odds are still stacked against them but if they don't do the work, their is no way to know what their ceiling would be.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:39 pm

randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm
Kids spend 6+ hours doing academics at school. Do you really need to be spending more time on academics than that?
Kids spend ~175 days/year at school, and spend perhaps 3-3.5 hours there, per school day, on mainly academic tasks (english, social studies, science, math). Yes, that's significant, but it's hardly exhaustive. And that's driven by what the schools and the teachers PUSH, not by what your particular kid PULLs (is interested in).

Let the kid pick some books on their own, and you (as parent) add a few more for them. Encourage them to spend a week or two during the summer on interesting day camps (or sleep away camps), that hopefully enrich them and add to or create interest in some new topics. Show them that you value their interests in academics and academic-adjacent areas. There's a considerable distance between bare minimum, if any, parental academic encouragement and a Korean cram-school.

Broken Man 1999
Posts: 4518
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:31 am
Location: West coast of Florida, inland on high ground!

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:40 pm

A daughter received full tuition at a small private university on the basis of her academics, but mostly on her skill playing the viola. She had taken an interest in seventh grade, so six years of lessons with The Florida Orchestra first chair viola. The private lessons cost $20/week (mid 1990ties). She also played in a youth orchestra for 3-4 years in high school. She always made All State Orchestra, Superior medals for individual performance. See, instruments like a viola,oboes, bassoons just aren't sexy like a violin, but you gotta have violas, oboes, bassoons in the orchestra.

The private university tuition was about $17,000 at the time. Great perks, also. The university took her and a few other students to Europe to play in some European orchestras one year.

As she was set to graduate with her BA, the music department offered to allow her to stay on scholarship to earn an MBA if she would continue to play in the university orchestra. Heck Yeah!

So, the family trust (mom and dad) invested $4,000-$5000 in private lessons, another $5000 in a used, but great viola. The return has been very good, IMHO. And, she can still sell the viola. Interestingly, when she first started playing, we really didn't have any idea it would lead to a modestly priced college education for her. Her viola teacher put the idea in her head, and boy, are we glad.

She has used that MBA from a "second tier" business school to work at four companies. I would imagine virtually every consumer has products from at least two of the companies, probably three. First job was with a defense contractor, her job was to watch the contract $$$.

Started business career as a financial analyst, then promoted to financial manager, now is an account manager. I kept telling her the $$$ were in sales, and she finally made account manager a couple of years ago. Even being in an account team as a support person was very well compensated.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:43 pm

randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm
What if your kid is one of the 3 best soccer players in your county and they live soccer. How much time/money do you spend having them maximize their talent. The odds are still stacked against them but if they don't do the work, their is no way to know what their ceiling would be.
What if the winning lottery ticket is sold at the gas station RIGHT BY YOUR HOUSE? How will you ever know if you could have been the winner if you don't buy some tickets?

===

How many professional soccer players, of US birth, are there right now? How many engineers? Doctors and nurses? Teachers?

Sure, you can bet on your kid growing up to be one of those pro soccer players in 15 years. (He's top 3 in the county right now!) But perhaps it's better to think about the soccer as a good hobby. I took my kids camping. I don't expect them to be pro-campers, nor even pro-river guides or whatever. That was something that was good for us. Soccer might be good for you and your kid. But the step where one's thoughts move from "good hobby for my kid that may build some character skills and interest in lifelong physical activity" to "my kid's gonna be the next Pele" is a step too far...

randomguy
Posts: 9039
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by randomguy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:04 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:39 pm
randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm
Kids spend 6+ hours doing academics at school. Do you really need to be spending more time on academics than that?
Kids spend ~175 days/year at school, and spend perhaps 3-3.5 hours there, per school day, on mainly academic tasks (english, social studies, science, math). Yes, that's significant, but it's hardly exhaustive. And that's driven by what the schools and the teachers PUSH, not by what your particular kid PULLs (is interested in).

Let the kid pick some books on their own, and you (as parent) add a few more for them. Encourage them to spend a week or two during the summer on interesting day camps (or sleep away camps), that hopefully enrich them and add to or create interest in some new topics. Show them that you value their interests in academics and academic-adjacent areas. There's a considerable distance between bare minimum, if any, parental academic encouragement and a Korean cram-school.
And in the sports/music/art/... world there is a considerable difference between the bare minimum and being an Earl Woods/Richard Williams parent. I am sure there is some parent out that that isn't letting their kid read a book and instead is pushing them out to practice something else. But I have never met them.

randomguy
Posts: 9039
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by randomguy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:14 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:43 pm
randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm
What if your kid is one of the 3 best soccer players in your county and they live soccer. How much time/money do you spend having them maximize their talent. The odds are still stacked against them but if they don't do the work, their is no way to know what their ceiling would be.
What if the winning lottery ticket is sold at the gas station RIGHT BY YOUR HOUSE? How will you ever know if you could have been the winner if you don't buy some tickets?

===

How many professional soccer players, of US birth, are there right now? How many engineers? Doctors and nurses? Teachers?

Sure, you can bet on your kid growing up to be one of those pro soccer players in 15 years. (He's top 3 in the county right now!) But perhaps it's better to think about the soccer as a good hobby. I took my kids camping. I don't expect them to be pro-campers, nor even pro-river guides or whatever. That was something that was good for us. Soccer might be good for you and your kid. But the step where one's thoughts move from "good hobby for my kid that may build some character skills and interest in lifelong physical activity" to "my kid's gonna be the next Pele" is a step too far...
And what happens if I lose the bet? The kid goes to college, gets a degree, doesn't get drafted by the MLS and then becomes an engineer, doctor, or teacher. The difference is that when my kid is 50 he knows he gave it a shot and doesn't have to live the live of what might have been if he had supportive parents. The opportunity cost of chasing the dream just isn't that high until after HS in most activities.

mak1277
Posts: 1441
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:26 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by mak1277 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:27 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:43 pm
randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm
What if your kid is one of the 3 best soccer players in your county and they live soccer. How much time/money do you spend having them maximize their talent. The odds are still stacked against them but if they don't do the work, their is no way to know what their ceiling would be.
What if the winning lottery ticket is sold at the gas station RIGHT BY YOUR HOUSE? How will you ever know if you could have been the winner if you don't buy some tickets?

===

How many professional soccer players, of US birth, are there right now? How many engineers? Doctors and nurses? Teachers?

Sure, you can bet on your kid growing up to be one of those pro soccer players in 15 years. (He's top 3 in the county right now!) But perhaps it's better to think about the soccer as a good hobby. I took my kids camping. I don't expect them to be pro-campers, nor even pro-river guides or whatever. That was something that was good for us. Soccer might be good for you and your kid. But the step where one's thoughts move from "good hobby for my kid that may build some character skills and interest in lifelong physical activity" to "my kid's gonna be the next Pele" is a step too far...
Saying that not going pro or not getting a scholarship means that any money spent on youth sports is a waste is just a false argument. Even if I know my kid isn't going to get a scholarship (much less go pro), I will have no problem spending money on travel sports if my kid wants to pursue that. Same logic if my kid wants to pursue an instrument, or wants to be a river guide, or whatever. I don't think of ROI when I think about spending money on things my kid is interested in.

stoptothink
Posts: 7872
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by stoptothink » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:39 pm

I'm going to assume this is response to this thread viewtopic.php?f=2&t=287016 . It is "interesting" how some parents categorize some of these very high expenses for their child's activities; they are a want, those expenses are a choice, and IMO it is often parents living vicariously through their children. That's great, and every parent should spend on their children as they deem best, but it does put a scare into new or future parents. The cost of raising kids for us has been a fraction of what we were told and my kids do a ton of stuff.

My parents spent $0 total on most of the things mentioned in that thread, and among us 5 (birth) siblings there are 3 former D1 athletes, 4 college graduates and 3 with graduate degrees, 2 who play at least one instrument at a fairly high level, and 5 sets of straight teeth. When it comes to this topic, the only thing I can say with any degree of certainty is that children generally cost what you want them to cost.

SC Anteater
Posts: 327
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:50 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by SC Anteater » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:43 pm

Here's the data for soccer scholarships, for example:

http://www.scholarshipstats.com/soccer.html

Cliff's Notes:

percent of h.s. soccer players that play at any level in college: 7.5% men/9.4% women

Odds of h.s. player making a roster: 18:1 (M), 13:1 (W)

Average scholarship per team: $15,008 for men, $17,766 for women. (That's what, 2 or 3 years of club soccer fees?)

"Do the Math! NCAA Division I men's Soccer teams have an average roster size of 29 players but only a maximum of 9.9 athletic scholarships to award per team. This means the average award covers only about 1/3 of a typical athlete's annual college costs - and this assumes the sport is fully funded at the sponsoring school. "

The sad thing is that travel teams have all but destroyed local, lower time commitment and cost rec teams. Anyone with any skill goes to a travel team and there's nothing left for some teams where you don't have to spend nights overnight in crappy places (Ripon and Modesto are favorites of leagues where I live).

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:48 pm

Yes, stoptothink, this thread was inspired in part (but not only) by that thread. $2500/mo on travel sports is one thing if you're shuttling your kids back and forth to practice in a Range Rover, only missing practices when you fly your kids with you to Aruba (i.e. when your financial resources are vast and your spending is extravagant anyways).

But if typical families are regularly spending $30K/year on travel sports (or even $15K), that's a LOT in relationship to median household incomes.

Perhaps it's my own biases as a relatively unathletic adult (who was a relatively unathletic kid), raising kids who haven't been all that athletic either, but there seems to be a LOT of emphasis in the culture at large, but also IN THE SCHOOLS on athletic performance and results. The sports trophy showcases are on the main floor and seem vigorously maintained, but the plaques honoring academic performance are in the basement and haven't been updated in ~5 years (i.e. if a kid does something in 9th grade, their name is not necessarily added to the relevant plaque until after they're graduated and gone...)

Again, compare that investment to taking your kid to the bookstore every month or two and spending ~$200-400 per year on books that interest them and/or that you select for them. Or signing your kid up for 2 weeks of summer day camp at perhaps $300-500 - one for cooking or painting, and one for math or science fiction writing. Add in a ~weeklong away camp in the woods and you're only adding perhaps another $900-1400.
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mak1277
Posts: 1441
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:26 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by mak1277 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:48 pm
Yes, stoptothink, this thread was inspired in part (but not only) by that thread. $2500/mo on travel sports is one thing if you're shuttling your kids back and forth to practice in a Range Rover, only missing practices when you fly your kids with you to Aruba (i.e. when your financial resources are vast and your spending is extravagant anyways).

But if typical families are regularly spending $30K/year on travel sports (or even $15K), that's a LOT in relationship to median household incomes.

Perhaps it's my own biases as a relatively unathletic adult (who was a relatively unathletic kid), raising kids who haven't been all that athletic either, but there seems to be a LOT of emphasis in the culture at large, but also IN THE SCHOOLS on athletic performance and results. The sports trophy showcases are on the main floor and seem vigorously maintained, but the plaques honoring academic performance are in the basement and haven't been updated in ~5 years (i.e. if a kid does something in 9th grade, their name is not necessarily added to the relevant plaque until after they're graduated and gone...)
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:55 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.
Indeed.

But 30 years later, the mathbowl kids are engineers, the debate kids are lawyers, and the football kids are taking out their job frustrations by pushing their own kids to be on the football team.

(OK, broad, not very kind stereotype... But a bit of the ring of truth, no?)

mak1277
Posts: 1441
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:26 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by mak1277 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:57 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:55 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.
Indeed.

But 30 years later, the mathbowl kids are engineers, the debate kids are lawyers, and the football kids are taking out their job frustrations by pushing their own kids to be on the football team.

(OK, broad, not very kind stereotype... But a bit of the ring of truth, no?)
Yeah, because only dumb kids play sports, right?

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:03 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:57 pm
psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:55 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.
Indeed.

But 30 years later, the mathbowl kids are engineers, the debate kids are lawyers, and the football kids are taking out their job frustrations by pushing their own kids to be on the football team.

(OK, broad, not very kind stereotype... But a bit of the ring of truth, no?)
Yeah, because only dumb kids play sports, right?
If there was a bit of an unkind note in my response, well, there's a bit of an unkind note in your initial comment about mathbowl and debate kids.

Obviously, lots of different kinds of kids do lots of different kinds of activities, with lots of different kinds of immediate results (in HS), and later results (as adults).

But its my opinion that both the degree of attention and money devoted to some of those activities seems disproportionate, and both the direct impacts (what skills the kids pick up), and the indirect impacts (what values do the kids perceive that their parents and other adults think are important) are sometimes skewed in an undesireable direction.

Moreover, parents of younger kids or would-be parents may think that it's not really possible to raise kids without expensive travel sports and the like.

And peer pressures among kids and adults may lead some to overlook simpler, cheaper activities, that, among other things, haven't been linked to brain damage among their participants.

But sure, go beat up on the nerds who signed up for the mathbowl.

friar1610
Posts: 1729
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: MA South Shore

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by friar1610 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:06 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:30 pm
We paid for guitar lessons for DD because she really wanted to learn to play the guitar. Her only "gig" was in the church worship group. Did we waste our $$$?
I don't know what you spent but I would vote NO - you didn't waste your money. She now has a skill that she can enjoy using for the rest of her life. In this particular case it sounds like it also provides entertainment/meaning to others.
Friar1610

Starfish
Posts: 1854
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by Starfish » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:08 pm

randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:28 pm
psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:54 pm

No, sports, music and the like don't preclude academics, and in some cases, can complement them well. But at the margins, if you have to choose, lean towards the academics, plus social activities that lead to a well rounded, happy person.

...Sermon over...
Kids spend 6+ hours doing academics at school. Do you really need to be spending more time on academics than that?

Most of my coworkers and people I know in my area never took any sports and music, played on the streets, and they are here the snatch 200-500k jobs from kids who spent a lot of time in organized activities. They are also healthier and tougher.
6h in academic activities is very inadequate starting from about 10y of age.
Last edited by Starfish on Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

aristotelian
Posts: 7632
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by aristotelian » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:15 pm

I pay for kids activities because they are fun and educational (including life skills). I have no expectation of them leading to a career or financial benefit.

h82goslw
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:44 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by h82goslw » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:24 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:55 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.
Indeed.

But 30 years later, the mathbowl kids are engineers, the debate kids are lawyers, and the football kids are taking out their job frustrations by pushing their own kids to be on the football team.

(OK, broad, not very kind stereotype... But a bit of the ring of truth, no?)
Wow.....my first kid was a 4 sport varsity athlete, captain of one of those teams, with an A- overall GPA and many, many extra curricular activities. Got in to the top state school (with those mediocre grades) and will be a bio-medical engineer upon graduation next year.

Second kid was heavily recruited by multiple D2 and D3 schools for their chosen sport (not football, but he did play when younger for 5 years) and elected not to play at all in college. He breezed through high school.
Accepted to all colleges applied for and is attending a great school. He’s only thinking mechanical engineering.

Please don’t stereotype.

Sports have a place when raising kids.....I just wish so many parents would stop thinking their kid is going to be a D1 athlete and then turn pro instead of saving for college.


ETA: I, like you OP, am very unathletic and always have been. Not sure where my kids’ athletic ability cane from.

randomguy
Posts: 9039
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by randomguy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:28 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:48 pm

Perhaps it's my own biases as a relatively unathletic adult (who was a relatively unathletic kid)
That was my assumption. If you talk to HS/college sports people, very few of them regret it even if they didn't go pro. The journey is the reward for a lot of activities.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:28 pm

SC Anteater wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:43 pm
Here's the data for soccer scholarships, for example:

http://www.scholarshipstats.com/soccer.html

Cliff's Notes:

percent of h.s. soccer players that play at any level in college: 7.5% men/9.4% women

Odds of h.s. player making a roster: 18:1 (M), 13:1 (W)
Note that, per the link, the odds of a HS player making an NCAA Division I roster are much worse - 99:1 and 46:1 for men and women, respectively.

And if they DO make that roster, their expected time commitment is super high - around 30 hours/week for Division I, and only a sconch less for lower divisions.

Again, that's not to say that playing HS soccer (without moving on to play in college) lacks intrinsic rewards. It has them. But keep things in perspective please. Reading a book you like has both an intrinsic reward (it's fun), and longer term rewards (improved reading & perhaps thinking skills, and enhanced knowledge, possibly, of a topic that may be of long term interest.)

stoptothink
Posts: 7872
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by stoptothink » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:33 pm

h82goslw wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:24 pm
psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:55 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.
Indeed.

But 30 years later, the mathbowl kids are engineers, the debate kids are lawyers, and the football kids are taking out their job frustrations by pushing their own kids to be on the football team.

(OK, broad, not very kind stereotype... But a bit of the ring of truth, no?)
Wow.....my first kid was a 4 sport varsity athlete, captain of one of those teams, with an A- overall GPA and many, many extra curricular activities. Got in to the top state school (with those mediocre grades) and will be a bio-medical engineer upon graduation next year.

Second kid was heavily recruited by multiple D2 and D3 schools for their chosen sport (not football, but he did play when younger for 5 years) and elected not to play at all in college. He breezed through high school.
Accepted to all colleges applied for and is attending a great school. He’s only thinking mechanical engineering.

Please don’t stereotype.

Sports have a place when raising kids.....I just wish so many parents would stop thinking their kid is going to be a D1 athlete and then turn pro instead of saving for college.


ETA: I, like you OP, am very unathletic and always have been. Not sure where my kids’ athletic ability cane from.
I was a 3 sport varsity athlete who ended up playing D1 football. I also skipped a grade and graduated a semester early (to early enroll in college) and was still my high school's salutatorian, graduated summa cum laude with a double science major, and am now a PhD scientist. I totally agree with the sentiment of this thread, but the stereotyping...yeah, not so much.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:34 pm

randomguy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:28 pm
That was my assumption. If you talk to HS/college sports people, very few of them regret it even if they didn't go pro. The journey is the reward for a lot of activities.
It would be an interesting survey topic. To add two anecdotes:

I had two uncles who pursued the dream of pro-baseball*. One I think spent 3 years in the minors, washed out, and didn't go to college. The other, IIUC, injured his knee early, spent little if any real time in the minors, but got a good education and ended up being a college baseball head coach (at a recognizable school), and later, AD at a smaller school. Career-wise, I guess the latter was well rewarded, despite the initial lack of success. But the former probably had a lesser educational outcome than he otherwise would have, and generally had career disappointments, despite being a very intelligent guy. So it can go either way.
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

h82goslw
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:44 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by h82goslw » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:36 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:33 pm
h82goslw wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:24 pm
psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:55 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:51 pm
Nobody (except the participants' parents) are coming out to cheer for the mathbowl or debate team.
Indeed.

But 30 years later, the mathbowl kids are engineers, the debate kids are lawyers, and the football kids are taking out their job frustrations by pushing their own kids to be on the football team.

(OK, broad, not very kind stereotype... But a bit of the ring of truth, no?)
Wow.....my first kid was a 4 sport varsity athlete, captain of one of those teams, with an A- overall GPA and many, many extra curricular activities. Got in to the top state school (with those mediocre grades) and will be a bio-medical engineer upon graduation next year.

Second kid was heavily recruited by multiple D2 and D3 schools for their chosen sport (not football, but he did play when younger for 5 years) and elected not to play at all in college. He breezed through high school.
Accepted to all colleges applied for and is attending a great school. He’s only thinking mechanical engineering.

Please don’t stereotype.

Sports have a place when raising kids.....I just wish so many parents would stop thinking their kid is going to be a D1 athlete and then turn pro instead of saving for college.


ETA: I, like you OP, am very unathletic and always have been. Not sure where my kids’ athletic ability cane from.
I was a 3 sport varsity athlete who ended up playing D1 football. I also skipped a grade and graduated a semester early (to early enroll in college) and was still my high school's salutatorian, graduated summa cum laude with a double science major, and am now a PhD scientist. I totally agree with the sentiment of this thread, but the stereotyping...yeah, not so much.

Slacker!! :D

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:38 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:33 pm
I was a 3 sport varsity athlete who ended up playing D1 football. I also skipped a grade and graduated a semester early (to early enroll in college) and was still my high school's salutatorian, graduated summa cum laude with a double science major, and am now a PhD scientist. I totally agree with the sentiment of this thread, but the stereotyping...yeah, not so much.
Were you on travel teams?

jabroni
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu May 23, 2019 4:10 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by jabroni » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:47 pm

My father spent quite a bit on me playing baseball when I was a kid. I don't think he had any belief that I would be a professional athlete, as I was more talented mentally than physically. However, he loved baseball, and I enjoyed playing it. It makes sense to spend money on things that bring you joy.

Starfish
Posts: 1854
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by Starfish » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:47 pm

Kids activities (together with expensive education) are part of the modern economic scam. Kids used to play for free. Now they go to expensive supervised activities that make them dumber, not smarter. They lack a lot of skills from playing on the street (social, creativity for example).

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:48 pm

jabroni wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:47 pm
However, he loved baseball, and I enjoyed playing it. It makes sense to spend money on things that bring you joy.
Indeed.

London
Posts: 146
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:50 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by London » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:51 pm

What’s the point? If you don’t want to spend money on kids travel sports (or the like) don’t. Who cares if another parent does? Not sure why you assume it’s all about college or being a professional.

thx1138
Posts: 1129
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:14 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by thx1138 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:09 pm

ohai wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:06 pm
You gave some examples of inefficient spending on parenting. I'd be surprised if someone proved that there was no positive correlation between academic success, future earnings, and amount spent on education or activities during childhood. I don't know what is the efficient allocation - it depends on the child.
Well a key point is some reasearch is showing a *negative* correlation of outcomes with too much spending on education and activities for kids. More isn’t necessarily better. It doesn’t necessarily just become inefficient - it can actually become a negative. Like everything it is a balance and depends on the parents, child, activities chosen and so forth. And I highly suspect there is a very wide range of spending that results in statistically identical outcomes. Most of the obsessing about too little or too much is probably much ado about nothing.

TravelforFun
Posts: 2074
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by TravelforFun » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:15 pm

We'd spent a lot of money and 8 years on our daughter's soccer pursuit but lo and behold, she picked up a golf club in her freshman year in high school and made the golf team. The soccer was then kicked to the side. Four years later, she got a full scholarship to play golf for a private university in Oklahoma. The soccer pursuit cost us $15-20K, the golf game $0.

TravelforFun
Last edited by TravelforFun on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:18 pm

TravelforFun wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:15 pm
The soccer pursuit cost us $15-20K, the golf game $0.

TravelforFun
Cheers!

stoptothink
Posts: 7872
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by stoptothink » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:22 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:38 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:33 pm
I was a 3 sport varsity athlete who ended up playing D1 football. I also skipped a grade and graduated a semester early (to early enroll in college) and was still my high school's salutatorian, graduated summa cum laude with a double science major, and am now a PhD scientist. I totally agree with the sentiment of this thread, but the stereotyping...yeah, not so much.
Were you on travel teams?
As I mentioned above: no. I played baseball, football, and track in high school but I had to pay all the expenses myself. My brother and sister were on travel soccer teams from their early teens until college. My brother traveled the world as a member of possibly the best club team in the country at the time (which included the best US player ever (Landon Donovan) and 3 other future national team players) but their expenses were covered (not by my parents) because they were good enough. If you are a legitimate elite level player, the team usually pays for you, not the other way around.

I agree with your rant about excessive spending on travel sports, etc. Your not so thinly-veiled stereotyping of athletes: no.

stoptothink
Posts: 7872
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by stoptothink » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:24 pm

London wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:51 pm
What’s the point? If you don’t want to spend money on kids travel sports (or the like) don’t. Who cares if another parent does? Not sure why you assume it’s all about college or being a professional.
Pretty much. If other parents want to spend on child sports, more power to them. I agree that it is usually totally unnecessary and maybe counterproductive, but it doesn't effect me at all.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:33 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:22 pm
I agree with your rant about excessive spending on travel sports, etc. Your not so thinly-veiled stereotyping of athletes: no.
Well, I fired back a bit at someone who I perceived to be taking a shot at "mathbowl or debate team" kids.

I don't have an objection to kids playing sports, or doing music (my kids, have, to varying extents, done both).

It's about emphasis, costs, and tradeoffs (EDIT - and not ignoring the small and not so small ways that parents can nudge along the academic and academic-adjacent areas, whether or not their kids are doing other things).
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
sergeant
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:13 pm
Location: The Golden State

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by sergeant » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:37 pm

My son was an elite baseball player from 10-16 years old. At 16 some of the other players caught up and a lucky few even surpassed him. Sonny played travel ball but we refused to do long distance travel and showcases. A lot of parents hired hitting and fielding and strength coaches. I coached my son. I always knew he was an early maturing (physically) athlete and would peak in HS and that pro ball wasn't in the cards. We saved the real money for retirement and college fund. An injury in his first season of college ball ended his playing days. He graduated and has a Master's degree and is a Captain in the Army.

It seems that the more parents had spent on their son the crazier they were at sporting events.
AA- 20+ Years of Expenses Fixed Income/The remainder in Equities.

ncbill
Posts: 778
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Western NC

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by ncbill » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:23 pm

We required our kids to take piano for several years & required them to participate in organized sports of their choice in high school.

One D3 coach wanted our youngest for a sport he didn't start playing until his junior year...but he didn't get in...only ~250 spots that year.

Still, with their athletics & leadership positions all got through undergraduate via the military (primarily ROTC scholarships), IMHO a much more realistic way of paying for undergraduate versus winning an athletic scholarship.
Last edited by ncbill on Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

uberdoc
Posts: 176
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:37 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by uberdoc » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:36 pm

My job is physician, my kid’s job is education. I play sometime for fun, same with the kid. Better focus on studies now rather than flipping burgers for rest of the life. And no, 6 hr school is not enough. My plan is to sit down every evening and study together for 2 more hrs. Education continues after school and parents are the one really teaching their kids.

Regattamom
Posts: 259
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:40 pm

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by Regattamom » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:11 pm

Why does anyone care what others spend on their kids and why they spend it? I see it the same as anything else. It's a choice they make and even though I may disagree with that choice, it's not my concern. I have enough on my hands managaing my own affairs.

randomguy
Posts: 9039
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: A note on spending for kids

Post by randomguy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:16 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:33 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:22 pm
I agree with your rant about excessive spending on travel sports, etc. Your not so thinly-veiled stereotyping of athletes: no.
Well, I fired back a bit at someone who I perceived to be taking a shot at "mathbowl or debate team" kids.

I don't have an objection to kids playing sports, or doing music (my kids, have, to varying extents, done both).

It's about emphasis, costs, and tradeoffs (EDIT - and not ignoring the small and not so small ways that parents can nudge along the academic and academic-adjacent areas, whether or not their kids are doing other things).
I have notice that most people that didn't do sports are very thin skinned about the subject. That was a pretty innocuous comment. Heck we made the same joke about our math team, quiz bowl and XC meet attendance except ours was that not even our parents wanted to attend:) I will say that I have met very few people who regretted doing sports in high school or college and pretty much none of them went pro.

Worrying about what other people are doing and how they spend their money is a waste. Heck I would say most parents need to stop trying to nudge their kids academically so much. Probably just the crowd I run with but the amount of stem crap I have heard about over the past 10 years from parents hoping to turn their kids into techies or get them some edge is just nuts. Programming for preschoolers isn't going to turn your kid into zuckerberg. Maybe if you are living in some inner city, kids need to be pushed academically. In the upper middle class suburbs? That hasn't been my experience. The kids hear enough about the importance of education and how college is a requirement to be a success in life. And the STEM fetish that we have right now is nuts.

Post Reply