Better Parenting: When it’s better to give money instead!

With the passing of one of the biggest holidays of the year, children across the country were graced with an abundance of new items: everything from toys, electronics, super-gadgets, clothes, shoes, and just about every other thing their little hearts could fancy, waiting for them Christmas morning, probably under a decked out tree!  Now, that the holiday is over, however, many parents are asking themselves, “was it really worth it?”

“So, explain to me again, how your Xbox got broken?”

Sure, we were able to gain the intrinsic reward of accomplishment, even if just from their excitement.  And some of us might have even righted a few wrongs from our own childhoods, through Christmas giving, and by living vicariously through our kids. But, for those moms and dads all over the globe, who just weeks, some even days out from Christmas, have already seen their hard earned money wasted by the sight of broken toys, missing game pieces, and coveted gifts that quickly lost their appeal, the answer can be a grim, “not so much!”

Now, that doesn’t mean our kids would answer the same.  I’m sure we’d all be hard-pressed to find any child who’d say, “Why no! It most certainly was not worth my parent’s release of blood, sweat, and tears, just to check off (at least some, if not all of) the items on my Christmas list, (for which I have graciously given Santa thanks)! A child’s, even a teen-ager’s irrationality is to be expected!  What shouldn’t be, rather, is the pressure parents put on themselves (or that’s placed on them by others) to make holidays, or birthdays, or any other “special” days, such over the top events– not at the expense of our wallets and especially if it causes us stress.


As parents, we can do better!   Below, I give solutions to how we can still give our children some of the things they desire, while teaching them responsibility at the same time. “But,” you say, “these days are supposed to be about fun! That’s an objection I know many will have, and I hear you.  The strategies below aren’t about taking away the nostalgia and magic of the holidays away.  What it will do, however, and has done successfully for my family, is implement a system that not only decreases parental stress and anxiety when it comes to times like these, but also completely empowers our kids!  A win-win if you ask me.  Below I lay out five times where it’s advantageous to forgo gifts, to give your child money instead.

  1. For Christmas! In 2018, my husband and I sat all five of our children down to announce there would be no gifts given for Christmas—of course that declaration met with pushback.  presentsStill, we explained further that in lieu of gifts, each child would receive a passport for a family trip out of the country.  As an aside, for Christmas, each child received money in an amount appropriate for their age as a surprise.  What I discovered was telling: After months of begging me for miscellaneous items, these same things almost instantly became unimportant on their dime, even though they now had the funds to purchase them.  Talk about giving them, (and me) a new financial perspective!giphy-5
  2. For Birthdays! Following the same strategy as Christmas, we told our children, “no gifts”.  Instead, we promised each would receive their favorite birthday meal, prepared by me, their favorite cake (also baked by me), special privileges for their entire birthday month, and a family movie night (at home), on their actual birthday.  My husband and I also gave each child money, according to their age (they were not told of this part).  Yet, again, I could not believe how conscientiously my children handled their   money.  Unlike the junk they often asked and (sometimes) got me to waste my money on, I noticed they were much more frugal with their own.giphy-6
  3. When Shopping for Clothes or Shoes! It happens to parents all the time—we take our children school shopping, or simply, to buy new gear when what they have gets old—only to end up spending way more than we intended, or playing the, “I’m not buying all of that!” game.  Why?  It’s because of kid-pressure headaches, brought on by begging, or their indecisiveness, or worse, ours!   The last time I took my daughter shopping, I thankfully, experienced none of that.  My dear, beloved, pre-teen could purchase whatever dud’s she desired, as long as it came from the money in her possession!  The satisfaction of witnessing her tackle the mental math to decided what she most wanted, according to what she could afford, made it a more enjoyable experience for us both!
  4.  When Buying Gifts for Other People! It’s amazing how noble and thoughtful our children can be when coming up with gifts to buy for dad, grandma, their teachers, or even their very best pal—as long as it’s on mom or dad’s dime!  Oh, but how tunes change when those same kids are required to fit the bill.  By giving my children a dollar amount, in their hand, for gift giving, it forces them to not only become more selective with who they give gifts to, but it also pushes them to be more creative about what they decide to give.

    Make THEM do the mental work!

In the end, I found that giving my children money, in place of gifts, or in lieu of simply purchasing things for them, gives them a respect for money and heightened sense of problems solving and decision making skills that they wouldn’t develop otherwise.  Ask most parents and they will concur, our goal is to grow both financially savvy and self-sufficient kids.  Using this method is one fool-proof way to achieve this!

Let us know how you feel about giving your children money.  Have you had success with it?  Share your experiences, we love to hear them!

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Hey there, very pleased to meet you. I'm a mother and wife who finds time to write and share a glimpse of my life with the world. Here's to living Brilliantly! Enjoy

44 thoughts on “Better Parenting: When it’s better to give money instead!

  1. This is amazing!!!! I am super on board with giving kids experiences/allowances over presents. A lot of times kids outgrow their gifts and they end up in the junkyard. You are doing a great job by teaching them the value of money as well as money management skills that they don’t teach at school. I love this idea!


  2. At a young age, I don’t let my kids have money and step by step I am teaching them on how will spend them wisely. Then soon they can now buy things on their own


  3. Glad that I have kids that have no interest in money, probably when they grow up they will, But for now, they are enjoying receiving gifts.


  4. This was such a fun post to read! I don’t have kids, but I like the approach you and your husband are taking. Your kids will grow up so to be so grounded and thoughtful I’m sure.


  5. These are great ideas to think about! I like the idea of the experiences instead of gifts (special meal, movie night, etc like you said). That sounds like it would have a lot more meaning!


  6. Great post and thoughts. I agree. I did this with my kids to instill the value of the dollar in them when they were young and I’m so pleased that today they are both very responsible.


  7. I’ve always loved giving my kids the gifts that they’ve been waiting all year for. However, the older they get, the harder that gets. I’m not averse at all to giving money these days.


  8. Great post certainly puts things into perspective we quickly discovered that all the toys they begged for soon became thrown into the cupboard we only buy one main gift now that they really want and a few small bits, they’re still young so don’t quite understand how money works but i hope when they’re older i remember your strategy it is fab well done!


  9. I love all of these. I don’t have kids but i am the legal guardian of my younger brother. He is an high schooler, he always want the latest trending shoes and convincing me that he has good grade. Which is fine. But I told him, here’s how long he took me to reach a good credit , no one taught me and I didn’t know what I was doing. I will put you on my credit card and you will have to manage your expenses even I’m paying for it. I told him when the cycle end ,the credit limit in all. He has been really responsible. So far so good because i am not buying a 500 dollars shoes


  10. How fascinating! A very different approach of teaching children about values – and not just financial ones. I especially love the idea of giving them passports and a family trip. They will remember that trip much longer than any toys etc. would have lasted.


  11. It’s an interesting perspective on teaching children the value of money. I wouldn’t go to the extreme of removing gifts completely, as there should be a little something under the Christmas Tree that they want, but I like your idea.


  12. Great article. You have explained every details in understandable manner and moved on to the another paragraph with ease. Thanks for sharing …..


  13. As I got older, I definitely preferred receiving money over material gifts. I’ve always loved the idea of buying experiences over things.


  14. Girl!! I have been trying to get my hubby to do the same thing!!! Like why can’t we create and experience!! He is just now coming around! Thanks for letting me know that I am not crazy!!! And we have 5kiddos to!!! Ahhhhh happy to see another mama doing her thing!!


  15. This is a great idea, My oldest is getting older shes 7 and its getting to the point where its so hard to shop for her. Maybe this way it will teach her the value of money.


  16. I love this approach especially since it was how I was raised. Each year I was told exactly how much money I was getting and then would go shopping to buy what I wanted.
    Unfortunately, this technique will only work for one of my children, as my oldest is quite irresponsible with money, in spite of me and my husband’s efforts. She recently received some money for her birthday and was given $10 of it while we kept the rest for her. She then traded all $10 for a bag of chips at school! She’s 10 years old SMH. But you have given me something to consider as far as how we can take the mindset behind the approach and try to tailor it for her. Thanks


  17. We often don’t buy our kids gifts because they get gifts from grandparents and aunts and uncles. For their birthdays we put together a party and for christmas they get something to read, something to wear, something they need, and something they want. It has worked out very well for us.


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