LSU AgCenter Family Economist Offers Advice to Help Young Santas Develop Money Smarts

Jeanette A. Tucker  |  9/14/2006 11:30:38 PM

News You Can Use For December 2003

Grandparents, mom and dad, brother and sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, teacher, friends: the gift list – and the cash register receipt – get longer every year. "The holidays are a great time to discuss spending with the younger set," says LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker.

Children, like adults, are wise to develop a holiday spending plan. A plan can help both young and old enjoy the pleasure of giving without holiday blues caused by a strain on personal finances.

Tucker offers a number of tips to help children realize their holiday gift-giving goals. "Set a positive example and reduce seasonal financial stress by adopting them as your gift-giving strategy," the LSU AgCenter family economist advises.

• Sit down with children and ask them to develop list of people for whom they wish to buy gifts. Have them also develop a list of gift ideas.

• Next, help the child research the cost of each proposed gift. Sunday newspaper inserts are a great source of pricing as well as many Internet shopping sites. Record the prices for each entry.

• Have the child add up the cost of his or her gift giving plan.

• Compare the total cost to the money the child has saved for gift-giving. Most youngsters will end up with a shortfall.

• Work with the child to create a plan to "fund" a gift plan. Now is the time to discuss a weekly allowance and how much they need to save. Are there chores that the child can do to earn gift money? Could he or she substitute a lower-cost chore that the recipient would enjoy just as much? Avoid offering loans to help meet the budget shortfall.

• Talk to children about gifts they can make themselves – perhaps the child can make a special craft item or prepare a favorite cookie recipe. A Christmas gift project may provide much needed one-on-one time for the child and a parent, grandparent or other special adult.

• Remind the youngster that a gift of time is always welcome. Cleaning the storage room for dad, raking leaves for grandparents or reading a bedtime story to a sibling is always appreciated.

• Help the child write out a plan. Specify total monetary goal, when and how to earn the extra money, when to make gifts, etc. Writing goals and plans is an important exercise for children. It provides a guide for implementing the plan.

"Adult support is very important," Tucker emphasizes, explaining, "Make certain you follow up with them."

Additional information on this and related family and consumer topics is available by contacting an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, log on to the Family and Consumer Sciences section under the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service at the LSU AgCenter Web site: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/

Source: Jeanette Tucker (225) 578-1425, or Jtucker@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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