Let’s face it. We all want to give our kids the world. We even measure our success on being able to give our kids more than our parents gave us. What we fail to realize is that the best gift we can give our children is to teach them responsibility. Ironically, to do this you can’t give them everything! Go figure. The reality is that they will not be given anything once they get out in the real world. If you give them everything they want now and then they succumb to their immediate wants as adults, they (and you) will be setting themselves up for financial failure.
What it really boils down to is you can’t compromise your financial situation by getting your kids everything they ask for. In keeping your financial situation in order, you teach your kids that money does not grow on trees and that there has to be accountability for every dollar you spend. To help you keep your finances in check, you should implement (and stick to!) a budget for your kids. Holidays, birthdays and special rewards should all come with a firm price tag that your children (and you!) must adhere to. Sticking to a budget doesn’t always mean telling your kids no to everything they ask for. In fact, creating a budget creates an opportunity for you and your children to be extremely resourceful. They learn to think outside-the-box as they opt for less conventional outlets to get their items from. They are also taught invaluable lessons in researching, saving, and all-around patience.
Here are five tips on how to stick to a budget and get everything on your kids’ wish list:
1. Determine budgets for holidays, birthdays, etc. well in advance so that everyone is aware of how much money they will have to spend. For older children, this budget should be communicated. However, for younger children, the budget is more of a FYI for yourself!
2. Have your children make their lists early and start your shopping as soon as you can. This will prove beneficial because it allows you to shop around for the best deals and you can hold out for a great sale. If you have older children, get them involved in hunting for the best deal.
3. Shop out-of-season or during big shopping days. I have twins that have birthdays in February. Buying their birthday items the day after Christmas provides big savings. My son has a birthday in July and I can buy summer clothes for him at a really great price during that time. Knowing the best times to buy gifts for the kids as well as the best times to buy certain items will help you get the most out of the money you have budgeted.
4. Give your kids the option of whether they might want to purchase a gently used item. This allows them the ability to get higher ticket items within their set budgets. Garage sales, Craigslist, thrift shops, and even pawn shops are good resources to find used items at a great price. Some stores even sell refurbished items, such as electronics, at a discounted price.
5. If your child wants a higher priced item, encourage them to save their money so that they can put it towards any money that you might give them to shop with. This would include any allowances they might get or money they may have received from past holidays. Also, if you know that they will be getting money soon, you might want to suggest that they wait until after the event to determine just how much money they will have. The last thing you want is for them to pick things out just to spend up all their money. Having patience and holding out for something they really want will be a lot more fulfilling.
Sound simple enough? I encourage you to try these out and see how it works for you. Remember to adjust your budget for gifts so that you are well-prepared when the time comes.
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