Planning holiday finances can be an overwhelming task for adults. Imagine what it's like for children, who often don't have experience in managing money. Use the gift-giving season as a teaching mechanism for your child, giving her a no-pressure lesson in planning a holiday budget. By the time she has her first job and a bank account, she will be a professional money-managing whiz!
What You Do:
- Before you begin, explain to your child what a budget is, and why it is important to have one.
- Let your child know the total amount of money she can spend on gifts. Explain to her that she will be able to save money by deciding to make some or all of her gifts by hand, but that she cannot go over the set amount.
- Instruct your child to make a list of the people she needs to give a present to this year. If her list is extremely long, suggest that she stick with cards or homemade treats for some recipients.
- Look through the sale ads with your child to look for some good gift ideas. This is a great opportunity to teach her the value of a good bargain! As your child sees things he wants to buy for someone, instruct her to cut out the picture or coupon, and set it aside.
- Remind your child that if she wants to spend a large amount of her budget on one person, she will have less to spend on the remaining people. Find a higher priced item your child picked out to use as an example.
- Have your child subtract the amount of her higher priced item from the total designated amount, so that she is able to see what she would have left to spend on everyone else.
- On a separate piece of paper, have your child write the names of the people she is buying for on the left hand side.
- Next to each person’s name, invite your child to write the item that she has picked out of the ads and the cost of that item, or the homemade gift she is planning to make and its approximate cost.
- Once all the people listed have a suggested gift item, have your child add up all the totals to make sure she has stayed within her set budget.
- If your child went over budget, help her look over the list to see where changes can be made.
- After your child has a completed list of people and gift ideas, invite her to glue the picture of the item she is going to buy next to the person’s name, and this will become her shopping list!
As a parent, it may be difficult to not allow your child to pick out exactly what she wants to give everyone for the holiday. However, remember that you are teaching your child a vital lesson about creating and sticking to a budget! This lesson in financial management will assist her for years to come.