A child costs $15,000 a year, on average, according to this "money" page at Parent.com. But the linked post says don't panic; there are ways to cut that by a substantial amount. For example, when it comes to a stroller, "Why drop $800 on a fancy ride when you can pick up a good one for $200?" Or hold off on sending your child to preschool at age 2. Instead, "You can easily create a stimulating environment at home and provide lots of opportunities for playdates with friends to help prepare children for kindergarten," the post says, quoting Barbara Willer, spokeswoman for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Mistakes parents make when it comes to children and money, listed at Kiplinger.com, include "caving in to kids' every request," "Neglecting to give kids guidance on managing money," and "Failing to make kids work for their money." This post says parents sometimes think it's better to ask a child to concentrate on schoolwork rather than get a job, but "A 16-year-old could certainly have a summer job to help cover his own expenses without jeopardizing his schoolwork."
On another side of that issue, it can be tricky for children to ask parents for money, and this post at About.com advises college students on how to finesse the delicate negotiations. Things to consider: Be up-front about whether you're getting a gift or a loan; honesty is the best policy; be grateful, and "Think about how to avoid your situation again."
When aging parents have money problems, grown children may have to switch roles with the folks to deal with the fallout. A post at AARP.org explains how complicated and expensive that can be for everyone involved. The way to avoid trouble is to get the lines of communication opened before everyone is staring a crisis in the face. It takes tact to get a parent talking honestly about money. At the start, it may be necessary to write a letter explaining "how much you care about your mom and that you want to plan ahead so her life goes smoothly."
Contact Reid Kanaley at firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-854-5114, or @ReidKan.