Keep Christmas Real and Realistic

MGlenna_Christmas_family-photo-RePost written by Mindy Glenna, Marketing Officer in Missoula

There’s nothing better than watching the joy on your child’s face on Christmas morning!

As the mother of a 4 ½ and a 2 ½-year-old (the ½ is very important), Christmas is truly magical.

This year, Danae wants a watch because her older brother just got one. Isaiah wants anything he can build or create with. I see a degree in art or engineering in his future.

Okay… so I have a mom confession to make – Christmas makes me feel like Scrooge.

It’s not that I’m a mean mom who doesn’t want my kids to have presents on Christmas morning.

Or that I don’t appreciate the thought and love that goes into each package. It’s that I look at the piles and piles of stuff they get and, in my head, I see dollar signs.

I see myself sitting behind a desk like Ebenezer Scrooge counting stacks of money!

I see all the money that could be going to help them to have a brighter future, and I question – is it rude for me to say, “Give them money instead!”

MGlenna_Christmas_son_with_Santa_Re

For the first four years of my son’s life, I’ve watched his eyes glaze over as he opens gift after gift and the process becomes more of a chore than fun.

I’ve held my breath as my daughter has opened a gift and said a silent prayer that she remembers her manners.

In my mind, a handful of gifts would be just as well received and will help my kiddos to keep in perspective the real reason for the season.

The average amount that will be spent this year by parents at Christmas varies by news source from around $300-$500 per child.

That number doesn’t include all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. that will also buy presents for your children.

Multiply that by 18 years. Add on birthdays, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween. Math has never been my strong suit, but you get the picture. All those gifts add up quickly and every dollar will help to reach the nearly insurmountable cost of college.

The gift of savings is a fantastic way to have a life-long impact on the future of a child and will more than likely help teach them the tools to have a financially stable future.

MGlenna_Christmas_daughter_at_tree_farm_ReThere are many creative and inexpensive gift ideas that can teach your kids about money but also let them have some fun at the same time.

A quick Google search turned up the following gift ideas:

  • Books About Money – There are many fun books that help teach young children about money. These include: Curious George Saves His Pennies, Dr. Seuss – One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money, and The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense.
  • A Piggy Bank – This is a fun way to help young children learn about saving money. You can include a little cash to get them started!
  • Money Jars – Older children can learn about money management and setting savings goals by targeting their money. Find or purchase three jars or other containers, decorate them with your child and label them “spend”, “save”, and “donate”. Then put a little money in each jar to get them started!
  • Board Games – There are many fun board games that will teach kids about earning, saving and investing. These include Monopoly, The Game of Life, Pay Day, and Stock Ticker.

In our family, we’ve been fortunate that many of our friends and relatives are thinking long-term for our children.

With any luck, college will be something attainable for them. Or there is always the chance one of them will opt to backpack across Europe. Either way, it will be a more memorable gift than whatever toy is hot this Christmas season.

How do you teach your kids about money? Do you have any creative Christmas gift ideas? We’d love to hear about them.

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