There’s nothing like the wonder and delight that your child experiences when they open a brand new gift during the holidays. However, for families on a budget, that delight may be tempered by the need to cut back on holiday spending. The good news is, it’s possible to get through the holidays without getting into debt. You can even teach your children about money along the way.
To help you get started, here are four lessons to teach your children about money during the holidays.
Lesson 1. Set A Good Example
One of the most important things that parents can do for their children is to set a positive example. One expert recommends the following:
“It’s up to you as a parent to instill the importance of the holidays in your own family. If they see you rushing around, madly trying to buy presents for everyone, missing out on the joy of the season, they will note the significance of this. Conversely, if you slow down and make sure to spend time enjoying the things you’d like to emphasize, this will send a strong message to your kids about what’s important.”
Source: David Lowenstein, Ph. D, Parent Guide News
Lesson 2. Set Realistic Expectations
Before you talk with your kids about holiday spending, it’s a good idea to sit down with your spouse first. Make sure that you are both on the same page regarding how much you’re planning to spend over the holidays. Set a budget and stick with it.
Once that’s done, take the time to sit and talk with your children about holiday spending. Have your children create a wish list and then take the time to go through it with them. By helping them to understand what is a reasonable request and what isn’t, you’ll be managing their expectations, and sparing them from being disappointed later.
This also allows you to understand what gifts are really important to your children so that you can give them the gifts that will truly bring them the greatest amount of happiness.
Lesson 3. Talk to Your Kids About Advertising
If your children are watching TV and see commercials, help them understand the difference between programming and commercials. If a child sees something on TV and says, “I want that,” tell them that you will discuss it with them tomorrow. Chances are, by then the item will be forgotten.
Also teach them about the tricks that advertisers use to make products look cooler on TV than they are in real life. They’ll be less prone to fall for advertising and be smarter consumers in the future.
Lesson 4. Teach Generosity
The holidays are also a great time to help children appreciate what they already have.
Finance and family expert Dave Ramsey recommends that you ask your children to help you clear out the closets of their old toys and clothes and let them help you decide what should be given to charity. Tell your child that for every toy they wish to receive; they need to give one away. That way, they’ll learn not to hold onto their stuff too tightly, and they’ll learn to share.
In addition, many parents encourage their children to use part of their holiday budget to buy a new gift specifically for donation. Let your children come with you when you make the donation, so they can see where their toys are going. Or, if you plan to make charitable donations at the end of the year, teach your children about the causes you support, and let your kids help you decide how much to give.
Your children get to experience the joy of giving, and they learn to understand that their choices matter not just for themselves, but for others.
Ready to get teaching, but need help planning your holiday budget? Take advantage of the Ultimate Holiday Budget Spreadsheet.
This resource is detailed, easy to use and allows you to set a holiday budget that fits your income before the start of the season.
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