Talking to children about money during the holidays Contact: Jennifer Hunter, interim assistant director of family and consumer sciences extension and Alex Elswick, extension associate for family resource management
Even if they do not earn money, children influence the family’s budget with their needs and wants. This is especially true during the holiday season when their wants tend to outweigh needs, which makes the season a perfect time to begin talking to children about money management.
Often children, particularly teens, have an unrealistic view of their family’s financial situation. As parents, it’s important to have age-appropriate conversations with children about money. Talk to them about prices, monthly expenses, budgets and debt. If there is a holiday savings account that is periodically contributed to, let children know. It’s important for them to realize that money for the holidays takes planning and preparation and does not appear magically overnight.
Be as honest as possible about the family financial situation. If the family cannot afford something, let them know. Do not let them believe there is more disposable income than there really is. While family finances may not be the easiest conversation to have with children, discussing them now allows children to learn important financial lessons that can help them as they grow into young adults.
Encourage the importance of giving over receiving and let children be involved in the giving process. If they have an allowance, maybe they would like to use it to buy gifts for friends and family members. If not, talk to them about homemade gifts or free gifts of time, companionship and assistance that are often more important to some people than monetary items.
For more information on family financial resources, contact the Woodford County Extension Office.