Do You Have Financial Vampires?

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Do you have financial vampires?

A financial vampire is a person in your life who essentially sucks the money right out of your bank account without giving it a second thought, similar to a vampire sucking the blood from you. I used to have friends that I would classify as financial vampires because they insisted that we go out to eat at some of the best restaurants in town, and when we traveled we had to stay at the highest quality hotel available despite the fact that we barely spent time in our rooms.

Similar to the rumor of fictitious vampires, financial vampires are highly seductive creatures that make us almost forget that we are purging our money just by being in their presence. Only the strongest of fiscally minded humans can avoid the lure of the financial vampire.

My Financial Vampire

As I became more fiscally minded, those financial vampire friends became former friends, and I don’t miss them; however, I am not completely rid of financial vampires in my life. Unfortunately for me, my biggest financial vampire is one of the most appealing I have ever met. He has big chocolate brown eyes, a smile that lights up the room, a giggle that melts my heart, and he lives down the hall from me which means I couldn’t avoid him if I wanted to. Yes, my biggest financial vampire is my son, Will.

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My dad warned me before I ever had kids that “children are the death of net worth,” but he didn’t fully explain the lure and appeal they have. Children are the worst kind of financial vampire because we develop a strong emotional attachment to them from day one and it only grows stronger with time. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make smart money choices when our emotions run high, and very few people have the emotional pull on us as our children.

The Ongoing Drain

My financial vampire was the most financially draining in his early days when I was still financially weak and he was incredibly cute, and if I am honest with myself, I was probably also incredibly sleep deprived. This combination of factors led to thousands of dollars of money flying out the door and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

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I had thought about going through the exercise of actually tallying all of the money that we spent on Will in these first 9 years of his life, but I always felt that I would get too depressed when I saw the results in black and white in front of me. I remember asking my dad one time if he ever sat down to calculate how much money he would have if he didn’t send 4 kids through college and he said no, but he imagined he could buy a small island for the same price.

I decided to go through this exercise today, for nothing else but my own morbid curiosity of the cost of my financial vampire to date. A few things you should note, though, up until about three years ago, I didn’t make what I would call smart money choices.

I worked in financial services for 13 years and always made a great income, but like most of my peers, I also spent a good portion of my income. I was more concerned with comfort and convenience than I was about being financially responsible, and looking back, many of these expenses were completely avoidable, but I was mentally weak and in the clutches of a very appealing financial vampire. So here is what happened as a result.

The Cost of My Financial Vampire to Date

Prenatal Medical Care – before I even met the little guy, I was spending money on him. Mostly on doctor’s visits, prenatal vitamins, ovulation kits and pregnancy tests.

Cost: $750

The Day He Was Born – this includes hospital stay, circumcision, and the all-important epidural, which is still probably the best $500 I have ever spent in my life.

Cost: $2,500

Childcare – this includes five years of year round daycare as well as after school programs and babysitters.

Cost: $83,000

Clothing – one of the joys of the little financial vampires is that they grow fast so you constantly have to find new clothing for them.

Cost: $9,000

Toys – this includes everything we have purchased for him since he was a baby.

Cost: $4,500

College Savings – this is an important expense for us since our parents paid for our college educations.

Cost: $35,000

Healthcare – my son was diagnosed with ADHD at 5, so included in this expense was the neurological testing we had to have done as well as psychologist and psychiatrist costs as well as his medications.

Cost: $15,060

Travel – we promised my son a trip to Disney World if he stopped sucking his thumb at 5, so this trip is the largest component of the travel number.

Cost: $13,000

Birthday Parties – we fell into a trap for a while of paying for parties like his other friends had, plus it was more convenient to entertain out of our home than in it.

Cost: $2,700

General Supplies – included in this number are things like car seats, diapers, bathroom supplies, etc.

Cost: $2,700 

GRAND TOTAL: $168,210

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Wow, I have to tell you that I knew the number was high, but I didn’t realize it would be quite this high. So what’s my advice to you to avoid a massive financial drain as a result of a financial vampire? I think the best thing you can do is define your personal financial goals, keep them in your forefront and share them with your financial vampire. If the vampire really loves you, he or she will stay in your life no matter what. If it’s a kid, of course they are going to stay in your life, and as far as my son is concerned, we have changed the way that we spend money in our home, but he knows that our love for him has not.

Having gone through this exercise, though, I have to say that raising my financial vampire is a lot like the Mastercard commercials; it is expensive and costly but the value of loving my little guy and watching him grow up truly is priceless.

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Do you have financial vampires in your life? Do you know how much money they have cost you?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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