Budgeting Children’s Wish Lists

The holiday season calls upon us to spend, spend, spend, but for many families this just isn’t realistic. Here’s how to survive the season on a budget.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis also the season for spending our hard-earned dollars. And that means the holiday season can be a budgeting nightmare. Although most parents want to satisfy their children’s growing wish lists, for many, it can be a tall order, especially if your family is experiencing a difficult time financially.

Charles Long, author of How to Survive Without a Salary, assures us there are ways to balance our books over the holidays, while satisfying even the most discriminating child. “The ‘I want’ stage, when the kids are little and comparing with their schoolmates is the toughest. There’s two ways to deal with this. One is to tell your child to make a list of all the things she wants. On that list will be all the advertised toys from television, and on that list there is bound to be one thing that the parent can afford. The other side is to make sure the kid has something that nobody else in the class has. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just different or unique, so that when he goes back to school, he’s got one thing off his list from his ‘I-want-television-ad’ list and one thing of his own which no one else will have. This way he fits in with his friends on one hand, and is his own person on the other. This is the best you can do when handling Christmas on a budget.”

And if your family is a little cash strapped this holiday season, it’s wise to be honest with your children. In this way you’ll take some of the stress off your shoulders and reduce what could have been unrealistic expectations of your child. Find time to sit down with the kids and explain it as best you can, at an age appropriate level, that things are tough and you’re going to have to work out ways to have a different kind of a Christmas, but that you’re going to do your best to make it the most fun kind of Christmas you can for them. Think of things which kids can do like making things, cooking, singing; things which shouldn’t cost too much money.

And remember, getting together with friends and families over the holidays are sure-fire ways of making the best of the season. So if you are going through a difficult time financially, but you can possibly get together and share the day with others, it’s going to be a better day, The more the merrier; that’s the sort of thing kids remember.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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