Once your child is old enough to know that Santa is a fantasy, he or she is old enough to discuss budgets for those gift-filled holidays. While you don’t want to spoil the fun with lectures, here’s how you can take advantage of the teachable moments to impart important lessons without your child feeling like he’s learning:
- Mention, in an offhanded way, that you’re not buying X because you’ve spent more than you planned on when you bought Y. Don’t make a big deal about it, but as you’re passing by a display of cute PJ’s, you can say something like, “I like those! I’d consider getting them, but since I already spent more than I’d planned on our holiday dresses, I’ll skip that this year”.
- When shopping for something specific with your child, tell her what you expect to spend. Then compare that to what you actually spent. If there is anything left over, explain that you’ll now have the amount you saved on this purchase to use for something else.
- Comparison shop. If you’re looking for a new vacuum cleaner for grandma, for example, compare features of different brands, and once you’ve chosen the brand, compare pricing at different stores, whether online or at the mall. This is a great time to explain that, sometimes, you get what you pay for – and sometimes you don’t.
- Of course, if your child is old enough and has the maturity it takes, explain that you’re budgeting (with or without exact amounts) and share as many of the details as you’re comfortable in sharing.
Taking the time to offer your knowledge and values about budgets will give your child a firm foundation for smart money management as she matures.
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