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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Life's Financial Lessons during the Holiday Season


The other day I was talking to my sister-in-law about all the "life lessons" we want our children to learn before they grow up and leave our homes. The list is quite extensive – everything from doing laundry, cooking a nutritious meal, to protecting themselves from dangerous situations. When your children are 2 years old, you think you have eons to accomplish this! But before you know it, your kids are teenagers and hard to catch to teach anything!

When do we teach financial lessons? Some of the lessons are being taught when you least expect it as kids tend to watch what we do, and may remember this more than what we say. But we can also use timely, teachable moments too – and the holiday season is one of those teachable moments.

For example, often the question of "needs versus wants" comes up. This is a concept that can be introduced in conversations with young children. And, this is an easy topic to discuss amidst all the advertising media during this season.

Also, the holidays may be a good time to give children who can count (and older) a spending budget so that they can buy gifts for people important to them.

And, another important financial lesson for all ages is sharing. There are many opportunities during the holidays for children to see you sharing during the holidays. This can include donating food or toys, as well as our time to help others.

I like to introduce concepts with young children by reading books with them. Two of my favorite books about sharing wealth include "A Chair for My Mother" and "The Quiltmaker's Gift."

In "A Chair for My Mother," by Vera B. Williams a family has lost all their possessions in a fire, but friends and family help out by sharing their beds, tables, pots and pans, and even a stuffed teddy bear to help out. The book also is excellent for talking about saving money: the family saves money in little bits until they have enough change saved to buy a something big.

Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken jointly produced "The Quiltmaker's Gift;" this book is a visually delightful and thoughtful book about a king who learns the joy of sharing his riches. While these books are very different styles, they both provide an opportunity to share values about money and to begin conversations about financial management with our children.



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