Why You Should Give Your Kids a Gift Budget

The holidays are a bit unsettling in my home: my husband and I are somewhat undisciplined in our spending, and the previous January arrived with such frighteningly large credit card bills that I wondered if we had fallen into the hands of some kind of egg drink. -induced mania. However, this holiday season is different: Last January I vowed to clean up my financial life and teach my kids smart money management , and everything went really well. For the first time this Christmas, we have pledged a reasonable amount for gifts and holidays.

And as my son is now seven and regulate his allowance (divided into spend, save and give banks ) quite well, I think that this time he can manage a small budget for the holiday gifts he would like to give. He has nine people on his list, so we figured out the percentage of our vacation budget that he should spend. He now has $ 45 in an envelope marked “gifts”; I also put a piece of paper in there so he could take notes on how he evaluates possible gifts.

Discussing values ​​before numbers

A budget holiday plan for kids is a good plan, says Ron Lieber, author of the opposite of Devastated Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart about Money and not just because it gives kids practice with arithmetic and resource management. “Like any exercise or discussion about spending, this is an opportunity to reinforce your family’s values,” says Lieber. If your family rejects the consumerist approach and wants to encourage creativity, he suggests setting the budget according to the type of gift. “You can say, ‘You get $ 45 if you want to buy gifts from the store, or we can give you $ 90 for DIY gift materials,’ he says. You teach your kids the basics of money management, of course, but this lesson also contains a dose of didactics: in our family, we value what we produce more than what we consume.

Or, if you want to reward charity over any traditional gift, Lieber recommends setting an even higher number: “If you want to donate to a cause that the recipient can approve, we’ll give you three times the money. [for the holiday budget]. The time you would have spent shopping can now be used to think about reasons the recipient can support. ”

Another parameter: Let’s say you would like to encourage the exchange of experiences, not things. Lieber points out that you, a parent, can make whatever rules you want: “If one of the lessons you’re trying to reinforce is the value of doing things, not buying things, perhaps you could establish a rule in your home. that every Physical object you give must be accompanied by a promise to that person that you are going to do something special together. Or you can set the rule that there will be no trinkets – each gift will be a gift of “experience”, not a product. ” Children should seriously consider the interests of the recipient: what will be interesting for us to do together? What would this person really enjoy doing with me?

Help them evaluate things and prioritize

I’d like to talk to Lieber before giving my son his budget because he really thinks about knickknacks and not the handicrafts he has done in the past. But, nevertheless, it was nice to see him racking his brains over his decisions: when he was evaluating a wristwatch for his father, he said: “They are either good, but expensive, or bad, but cheap. Like what you told that guy [contractor] about the kitchen cabinets. “

And when faced with the possibility of creating wristwatches for dad and handcrafting for everyone else, he redefined his priorities, putting his brother, cousin and two little buddies at the top of the budget line: he buys Shopkins for his girlfriend Sophie because he noticed that these are her favorite toys, as well as a Transformer for her brother, which makes a howl because of the “Heat Wave” every time we drive past the toy store. His cousin receives a pirate ship’s bathing toy; I refrained from mentioning that 20-year-old college sophomores no longer use bath toys. His friend Ike receives a spy kit so they can play secret agents.

These four things, ”he noted mournfully,“ have already borrowed $ 30 of his budget, and five more people have to go. “Disassemble the crafts,” I told him. Recycle your hand turkey from Thanksgiving. At the end of the day, this is an opportunity to reinforce our family’s values, namely that we don’t go over budget. Even when we are in an eggnog mania.


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