There are many stresses in the lives of parents these days. Two are currently on a collision path. The first stress is Christmas with the media emphasis on getting the right gifts for everyone. The kids making out long lists of items they “just have to have”. Letters are being written to Santa in hopes of getting everything just because they were “good” this year. As a parent you see these lists, yet the second stressor of this season is the economy. Should you spend your money on fulfilling your child’s wish list or should you stay on that budget?
I propose that now is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the “spending” values you want to share with your children. In order to do this you need to decide what you think about money and the objects money can buy.
A simple paradigm to follow is to view items as needs verses wants. For example food, clothing, shelter and love are needs, while the latest fashion, new cars, and the latest electronic gadgets are wants.
Let’s apply this to the Christmas wish list.
Step 1. Read your child’s wish list. Look for items you know they need. Maybe a pair of jeans to replace the pair that has become too worn.
Step 2. If you know of more need items write them on the list.
Step 3. Total up what you are willing and able to spend on the “need” items.
Step 4. Determine to stay within your budget.
Step 5. Get at least one item from the wish list without going over your budget.
You can apply this needs vs. wants to vacation plans, to gift shopping, to grocery shopping and essentially every area in your life. As you consistently do this it becomes a life long habit that you can pass down to your children. In the process you will have also taught your children not to accumulate “stuff”.