As a parent, you will do anything for your child. You thought you knew love before, for your partner, or for your parents. But it is a whole new love level when you are responsible for the complete safety of another being. So when it comes to money, you will often go without things so that your child can have every opportunity open to them.

But is the money you are spending a wise investment? Is it going to benefit your child in the short or long term? Or is is simply an unnecessary expense? Let’s look at how you can assess the money you spend on your kids with three essential markers…

Needs

Your child needs good food to eat, clean water to drink and clothes to keep them warm. But do they truly need caviar, Evian and branded label clothing? The answer is no, they don’t need the premium range of everything. You might want to buy those things for your children, and there is nothing wrong with doing so. We are just saying that a generic brand of t-shirt will function just the same as a designer label t-shirt.

There are necessary expenses in every household. There will also be a budget that each household has to work to. Involving your children in the budgeting process will help them learn their own budgeting skills which will be vital to them later in life.

You need to carefully consider whether each expense in your budget is a necessity. If you are sending your child to an expensive daycare or school because they will get better opportunities, then that is considered an investment. However, if you are spending more than you can afford it is time to reduce your costs. If you minimise the unnecessary costs then you can invest in more important areas of your child’s life.

Wants

Wants tend to bring enjoyment to our lives. Like a family vacation or having a meal out. But before diving into spending, it is important to explore whether the want will provide benefit to your family. A meal out at McDonald’s is a treat, but the unhealthy food is doing your kids no favours. However, a family holiday brings bonding time, new chances to learn and an exposure to other cultures and experiences.

When it comes to wants you need to work out if you are spending on a whim, or if the spending is justified. Before you spend, evaluate what you are doing. Are you giving into your child’s wants for the sake of it, or is the purchase truly going to benefit them. Again, this is an exercise in teaching good spending habits for later in life. Don’t just buy it because you want it then and there, assess whether it will enrich your life in some way before handing over the cash!

Investments

Needs and wants generally cover day to day purchases, but investments look to the future. The decisions based around their future truly determines whether you are investing in your children or just spending on them.

A good investment should provide a good return in the future. One of the most important investments you can make in your children is their education. The value of that education should be dependent on the quality of learning they receive and the teachers that teach them, the curriculum variety, the extra curricular activities available and how they are achieving academically. Regardless of the amount you pay for your child’s education, you need to weigh up whether the money is worth the education they are receiving.

Our children are our future, so are you investing wisely in that future? Managing your spending on a daily and llong-termbasis will determine if you truly are investing, or simply spending wildly.