You’ll pay too much, and your children will learn way too little.

Five years ago, Bravo TV asked me and some other Housewives stars which outfits we most regretted wearing in high school.

“Looking back, most of my outfits were pretty bad,” I said. “Lots of plaid bell bottom pants and my frizzy curly hair.”

Thankfully, my parents refused to spend a lot of money on school clothes. If I wanted something pricey, I’d have to buy it myself – which I sometimes did, because I’ve worked since I was 14.

The point here is this: While I’m known as a woman who has expensive things – I don’t believe children should have them.

You don’t feed your kids all the dessert they ask for, because you know that’s bad for them. Well, it’s just as bad to succumb to their demands for unneeded or extravagant back-to-school clothes and tech.

But if the latest research is right, parents are a real pushover this time of year.

Back to school? Back to basics!’s latest poll of 525 parents shows, “Nearly 8 in 10 said they increased their back-to-school spending because of inflation.”

Have you read the news? Inflation has changed how we’re buying everything. We cut back on our summer vacations. We took on more side hustles. We scour gas stations for the cheapest prices. We’re using coupons more.

Yet inflation isn’t changing our back-to-school buying habits.

I understand why. We want what’s best for our kids. But the latest and greatest at the beginning of every school year isn’t what’s best for them.

That might sound hypocritical coming from a woman who spent nearly a decade and a half on the Real Housewives of Orange County. I spent years wearing expensive clothes, jewelry, and traveling. And I still do!

But here’s the thing: I never spent what I didn’t have. I got that from my parents, and I gave it to my own children.

That financial responsibility starts with school – because that’s where kids first learn that money might not buy happiness, but it can definitely buy comfort and status.

If you want to raise spoiled kids, buy them the hot back-to-school items without regard for your own finances. That’s what Debt.coms research indicates is happening.

Teaching the wrong lessons

Children don’t just learn by doing. They learn by watching. If they see you spend yourself into debt by purchasing them things they don’t really need, they’re going to grow up and believe that’s normal.

Here’s the sad part, which brings us back to the beginning: Your kids will quickly outgrow whatever you overspent on.  Is that worth the stress of debt?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of

Vicki Gunvalson

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About the Author

Vicki Gunvalson

Vicki Gunvalson

Before Vicki Gunvalson starred on Bravo TV’s hit series “Real Housewives of Orange County” – which launched the franchise in 2006 – she was already a financial expert. Gunvalson has owned and operated Coto Insurance for three decades. Based in Irvine, California, Coto has been ranked among the top 1 percent of insurance companies nationwide, with more than 10,000 clients in those 30 years. Coto’s success helped Gunvalson become a member of the Million Dollar Round Table – which represents the top life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 70 countries. She continued to grow Coto during 16 salacious years on the hit show and subsequent celebrity projects. But it wasn’t just Coto that has earned Gunvalson praise and awards for her financial acumen. Licensed in every state not just as an insurance agent but also a retirement specialist, she has made it her mission to help people – especially women – become financially independent. She has partnered with to help even more of them. “I’ve counseled thousands of Americans who experienced their own melodrama – over money,” Gunvalson says. “ is in some ways exactly like me – and in other ways, unlike me. We both care deeply about getting good people in better financial shape. But unlike me, they do it quietly!”

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