Grandparents, mom and dad, brother and sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, 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," Tucker says, adding, "A plan can help both young and old enjoy the pleasure of giving without holiday blues caused by a strain on personal finances."
The family economist makes several recommendations 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," she says.
• Sit down with the 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 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 youngsters add up the cost of their gift-giving plan.
• Compare the total cost to the money saved for gift giving. Most youngsters will end up short. Tucker cautions to avoid offering loans.
• Work with the youngsters to create a plan to "fund" their gift plans. Now is the time to discuss their weekly allowance and how much they need to save. Are there chores they could to do to earn gift money? Could they substitute a lower-paying chore to buy a less expensive gift that the recipient would enjoy just as much?
• Talk to children about gifts they can make themselves - perhaps they can make a special craft item or prepare a favorite cookie recipe. A Christmas gift project may provide much needed one-on-one time between youngster and parent, grandparent or other special adult.
• Suggest that a gift of time is always welcome. Cleaning the storage room for dad, raking leaves for grandparents or reading a bedtime story to sister is always appreciated.
• Help write out the plan. Specify total monetary goal, when and how money will be earned, time for gift-making, etc. Writing goals and plans is an important exercise for children. It provides a guide for implementing the plan.
"Adult support is very important. Make certain you follow up on the plan with the children," Tucker says.
For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.