Talking to kids about money at the holidays can be stressful.
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The holiday season is rapidly approaching and, with it, the expectation of gifts under the tree. But if your money is tight, it’s likely that your kids aren’t going to get everything they want this Christmas. And if you’re really broke, they may get very little that they were hoping for. This can lead to a lot of tears and disappointment on Christmas morning.
But there is a way you can handle this better to make your holiday happier for you and your kids even if you have to buy gifts on a budget! Communication is key to setting you child’s expectations for the upcoming holiday. Deciding how much you want to tell your child about your financial circumstances should depend on their age. Too much info can overwhelm a youngster and too little can leave a teen worried that you’re holding out on them.
Here are some recommendations on how to talk to your kids about money problems at the holidays:
Reassurance Is Your First Priority
No matter how dire your situation, you don’t want to scare your kids. Start out by reassuring them that everything will be okay no matter what. Explain that your money is tight (you don’t have to explain why unless the child asks for more details) and that you will be getting back to basics for Christmas. Focus on telling them that you love them and that the holidays are about families and love rather than gifts.
Keep It Positive
Rather than coming at it from an “I have bad news for you” approach, try and put a positive spin on it. Explain that you want to make Christmas about the spirit of the season rather than presents this year. Tell them that you will be making gifts rather than buying them for family members so that they come from the heart and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Make it fun rather than scary.
Listen to their Feelings
Listen closely to what your kids say after you talk to them. Younger kids may be excited about giving and receiving homemade gifts. Older kids that are artsy or crafty may be similarly intrigued. You may find that your kids are more understanding than you anticipated. Likely they already knew the family was having financial problems – children notice more than you think.
Also, be sure to explore all possible options to give your children a happy holiday without worsening your financial situation. If you are on public assistance of any type, including free lunch at school, you may be able to sign up to participate in the giving tree at school where your children can receive gifts from donors without revealing your name – school counselors can help with this. Churches and other charity organizations often have toy drives you can sign your children up for.
And if your financial situation is dire and not likely to reverse, contact the law offices of John T Orcutt to find out if a North Carolina bankruptcy can help get your finances back on track once and for all.