All Financial Education

Use Christmas Shopping to Teach Kids Budgeting Skills

December 21, 2015

Smiling young parents with little girls at counter with Poinsettia. Focus on woman

Christmas is coming, and children everywhere are making their lists and checking them twice. While Santa is typically a miracle worker, parents still need some realistic ideas of what to get their kids without breaking the bank. Here are some shopping tips to help you have a successful holiday while also (sneakily) teaching your kids a few financial lessons.

Create a Wants vs. Needs List

Kids have a habit of wanting something so intensely that they don’t stop to evaluate if it’s something they really want or actually need. So, tell your kids to create a wish list of 3-5 things they want, and a list of 3-5 things they need. Having them separate their lists will teach them to weigh out and consider the pros and cons of their choices, rather than asking for everything they lay their eyes on. Both lists will make excellent gift ideas for you, while still helping your child understand the importance of value.

Give them a Budget

When your kids want to shop for gifts, give them a fixed amount of money and tell them it’s all they get to buy the gifts they want. By giving your child a budget to work with, it teaches them to plan out their purchases and decide what they can and can’t afford. For the younger crowd, the dollar store is a great place to introduce this since they can practice this technique by purchasing multiple gifts at a low cost.

Pay with Cash

In a world where credit/debit cards make up our main sources of payment, it’s easy to spend money when you don’t actually see the cash in front of you. Teaching children how to count paper money can be easily overlooked. So let your kids be a part of the purchasing process and give them the cash to make the transaction. Physically counting the money and buying the gifts will teach them important math and interpersonal skills, while also helping them understand the importance of the exchange of cash for goods.

Inspire DIY Gifts

Creating DIY gifts with your children is a great way to show them how to be resourceful. Not everything worth giving has a price tag, and sometimes the simplest gifts are the most priceless. Whether it’s a macaroni necklace, or a finger painted masterpiece, your kids will learn the importance of saving money by doing it themselves.

So as the holiday festivities begin and the countdown to Christmas continues, you can use these tips to teach your kids a few important lessons along the way.