It's hard to say no to the peanut brittle when the salesperson is a pint-size friend or family member. Nephews, cousins, neighbors' kids -- I feel like running for cover when I see them coming with their boxes and brochures and order forms in hand.
Look, I want to help out, and I'm sure you do, too. But that doesn't mean you've got to pull out the checkbook every time your niece opens her backpack. You could start by practicing the fine art of saying "No, thanks." Nobody said you have to buy the goods, even if the seller is your sister's child. This won't be easy, and may not go over well with your sister. But it sounds like you may need to be hard-line to keep your sanity.
Or you could do what my BFF/sister-in-law Angelou and I did: agree to limit the solicitations. Our kids all go to schools in the same area, so the fund-raising usually takes place in each of the schools around the same time; we agree to buy an item or two from each other's kids' fall fund-raiser, and score some tulip bulbs from the spring fund-raiser, and then we're done with it. Neither of us allows our kids to ask for any more handouts beyond these.
Talk to your niece's mom and see if you two can reach some kind of similar agreement; you -- and your wallets -- will be glad you did.
Denene Millner is a mom of two, stepmom of one, and a former editor at Parenting. She's the author of ten books.