With the passing of one of the biggest holidays of the year, children across the country were graced with an abundance of new items: everything from toys, electronics, super-gadgets, clothes, shoes, and just about every other thing their little hearts could fancy, waiting for them Christmas morning, probably under a decked out tree! Now, that the holiday is over, however, many parents are asking themselves, “was it really worth it?”
Sure, we were able to gain the intrinsic reward of accomplishment, even if just from their excitement. And some of us might have even righted a few wrongs from our own childhoods, through Christmas giving, and by living vicariously through our kids. But, for those moms and dads all over the globe, who just weeks, some even days out from Christmas, have already seen their hard earned money wasted by the sight of broken toys, missing game pieces, and coveted gifts that quickly lost their appeal, the answer can be a grim, “not so much!”
Now, that doesn’t mean our kids would answer the same. I’m sure we’d all be hard-pressed to find any child who’d say, “Why no! It most certainly was not worth my parent’s release of blood, sweat, and tears, just to check off (at least some, if not all of) the items on my Christmas list, (for which I have graciously given Santa thanks)! A child’s, even a teen-ager’s irrationality is to be expected! What shouldn’t be, rather, is the pressure parents put on themselves (or that’s placed on them by others) to make holidays, or birthdays, or any other “special” days, such over the top events– not at the expense of our wallets and especially if it causes us stress.
As parents, we can do better! Below, I give solutions to how we can still give our children some of the things they desire, while teaching them responsibility at the same time. “But,” you say, “these days are supposed to be about fun! That’s an objection I know many will have, and I hear you. The strategies below aren’t about taking away the nostalgia and magic of the holidays away. What it will do, however, and has done successfully for my family, is implement a system that not only decreases parental stress and anxiety when it comes to times like these, but also completely empowers our kids! A win-win if you ask me. Below I lay out five times where it’s advantageous to forgo gifts, to give your child money instead.
- For Christmas! In 2018, my husband and I sat all five of our children down to announce there would be no gifts given for Christmas—of course that declaration met with pushback. Still, we explained further that in lieu of gifts, each child would receive a passport for a family trip out of the country. As an aside, for Christmas, each child received money in an amount appropriate for their age as a surprise. What I discovered was telling: After months of begging me for miscellaneous items, these same things almost instantly became unimportant on their dime, even though they now had the funds to purchase them. Talk about giving them, (and me) a new financial perspective!
- For Birthdays! Following the same strategy as Christmas, we told our children, “no gifts”. Instead, we promised each would receive their favorite birthday meal, prepared by me, their favorite cake (also baked by me), special privileges for their entire birthday month, and a family movie night (at home), on their actual birthday. My husband and I also gave each child money, according to their age (they were not told of this part). Yet, again, I could not believe how conscientiously my children handled their money. Unlike the junk they often asked and (sometimes) got me to waste my money on, I noticed they were much more frugal with their own.
- When Shopping for Clothes or Shoes! It happens to parents all the time—we take our children school shopping, or simply, to buy new gear when what they have gets old—only to end up spending way more than we intended, or playing the, “I’m not buying all of that!” game. Why? It’s because of kid-pressure headaches, brought on by begging, or their indecisiveness, or worse, ours! The last time I took my daughter shopping, I thankfully, experienced none of that. My dear, beloved, pre-teen could purchase whatever dud’s she desired, as long as it came from the money in her possession! The satisfaction of witnessing her tackle the mental math to decided what she most wanted, according to what she could afford, made it a more enjoyable experience for us both!
- When Buying Gifts for Other People! It’s amazing how noble and thoughtful our children can be when coming up with gifts to buy for dad, grandma, their teachers, or even their very best pal—as long as it’s on mom or dad’s dime! Oh, but how tunes change when those same kids are required to fit the bill. By giving my children a dollar amount, in their hand, for gift giving, it forces them to not only become more selective with who they give gifts to, but it also pushes them to be more creative about what they decide to give.
In the end, I found that giving my children money, in place of gifts, or in lieu of simply purchasing things for them, gives them a respect for money and heightened sense of problems solving and decision making skills that they wouldn’t develop otherwise. Ask most parents and they will concur, our goal is to grow both financially savvy and self-sufficient kids. Using this method is one fool-proof way to achieve this!
Let us know how you feel about giving your children money. Have you had success with it? Share your experiences, we love to hear them!