Children can learn a lot about how to manage money from you. The holidays are a great time to talk to children about money, budgets and expectations, as you navigate the gift and entertainment filled holiday season.
Be Prepared to Talk
Before the toy and technology catalogs arrive in the mail, have a conversation with children about money and expectations. If your child asks for a very expensive gift or a long list of gifts that are not in your budget, have a plan to talk about it. Talking about money with children can feel uncomfortable at first. Be assured that being able to talk objectively about money improves with practice. Being comfortable talking about money is a skill that children can learn and use for the rest of their lives.
Talk about Budget and Values
If children’s gift requests do not match your budget or your values, this is an opportunity for a family discussion. Talk about prices, budgets, trade-offs, priorities and values. For example, they might prefer to receive one larger gift from several people rather than several smaller ones. Alternatively, they might prefer to receive money to add to what they are saving to get a more expensive item. If there are other children in the family this is a good time to talk about fairness among siblings.
In a discussion of values, talk about other ways your family celebrates the holidays. How does your family demonstrate appreciation for others besides gift giving? If the gift they want does not support your values, do not be afraid to say no and explain why. For example you can say “No I will not be giving you that. I don’t think you are old enough to properly take care of it. Here is a list of the types items I would be willing to give you.”
Discussions and Consistency are Key
Be aware that it might take several holiday seasons of discussions and consistent behavior on your part, for children to understand family gift giving expectations and values. Even if they do not show it right away, children will understand and appreciate these discussions. Lessons learned will help them build their own traditions, values and money skills for the future.