Giving young people the skills to properly manage money so they have an opportunity to grow up to be financially responsible adults is something that is important all year round, but the holidays provide a unique opportunity to make your message memorable. The holiday shopping season sees a lot of things in excess – department store santas, decorations, sales and credit card charges as shoppers rely upon plastic to help tackle their gift list. Instead of mindlessly digging yourself into an end-of-year debt hole, why not take this time to become a teacher instead and give the young people in your life a gift that will keep on giving – the tools to be mindful about money. Here’s how:
Don’t Budge on Your Budget
The first thing to do this holiday shopping season is to set a budget and then adhere to it. If need be, glance over your financial records for the beginning of the year, specifically your credit card bills from last January and your bank account statements. Determine a total amount you can reasonably afford to spend on gifts this year and use that as your guide. Enlist the help of your children to research and shop for fun, inexpensive gifts for the people on your list and set maximum dollar amounts on each gift. Thoughtful gifts don’t have to be expensive. Resist the temptation to overspend your budget on your credit cards by telling yourself that you will charge now and figure things out in the New Year. Planning ahead is essential to making a budget work. Involve your kids in the planning and make it fun.
Stuff Your Child’s Stocking With a Savings Account
One of the best things you can do for your children or young relatives is to open a savings account on their behalf in their name. Then they can learn how to keep tabs on their account by tracking all deposits and withdrawals. Teach them how to set savings goals for themselves and turn putting money away into a game. Some banks offer checking accounts for teens as long as an adult co-signs the account. This is a wonderful way to encourage teenagers to practice good money management as they maintain a record of withdrawals, deposits and balance their account at the end of each month. This will also set your teen up for eventually opening their very own credit card account.
Curb Your Impulses
Bring your children holiday shopping with you and teach them to avoid making impulsive purchases by leading by example. The advertising industry is constantly trying to entice consumers into spending more and more money, and during the holidays ads and sales go into overdrive. This can lead easily to overspending – especially on credit cards. Teach children to wait 24 hours before making a big purchase in order to think things over and determine if the item is really needed or wanted. Waiting is an important component of saving.
Make – and keep – a New Year’s Resolution to Save
Beginning with your very first paycheck of the New Year and your child’s very first allowance, establish a portion that will be put aside for savings on a regular basis. Developing consistent savings habits at an early age is a precious gift that will last your child a lifetime.