Matt Atchison, a local financial advisor and father, wrote a guest blog for momaha.
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I can’t wait for Christmas. All 30 of my years have seemingly revolved around that period of time spanning between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. My wife will catch me whistling “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” usually sometime around mid-August or so. But I am especially pumped this year. My baby girl will be 10-months-old and this will be my first Christmas experience from the “other side”. Though this year’s Santa Claus will likely confuse her and instigate a tear-filled first photo-op, I am excited to begin to share the stories and traditions with my daughter that I cherished so much as a little boy.
I aim to be intentional as a dad, making the most out of each opportunity to enjoy my kids as well as teach them important values along the way. I hope they have fond memories of their Christmases and see from their mother and me what this season is really all about: generosity, family, thankfulness, faith and all those wonderful aspects of this season that set it apart from all other holidays. Among the many altruistic examples we can share with our kids each Christmas, I encourage you to think about adding one lesson in particular to your holiday syllabus. Money.
If you don’t, someone else will. Even more, if you don’t, everyone else will. THINK about how many messages are being sent to our kids this time of year. It just reminds me how important it is to be intentional with our kids on meaningful topics. Money is a meaningful topic. Certainly not on the same level as teaching our kids to love, serve, and respect others, but it may be nearly as practical.
Our country is plagued with money issues right now. Not just on the government level, but even more importantly in my mind, at the family level. Whether we like it or not, money is a part of this life and I do believe that if you can understand money, you may be able to avoid a lot of unnecessary pain and stress. But even more importantly than that, if we as parents can teach our kids financial literacy, we may be able to help them avoid some of the financial grief we’ve experienced. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gift to our children this Christmas?
I’m going to give you three ideas of gifts you can teach your kids this Christmas. Unlike toys or video games, these gifts won’t break or go out of style. If practiced with intention, these lessons can help contribute to your children’s happiness for the rest of their lives.
1. Understanding a budget (I hear your sighs, but don’t stop reading!) This is a very simple, yet profound exercise to do with your kids. Sit down with your children before they start their Christmas shopping and help them come up with a list of people that they would like to buy gifts for. After the list is made, help them decide how they would like to divvy up a PRE-DETERMINED amount of money that they have allowed for Christmas shopping. Get them excited to find the best gift they can find for that amount. Here’s a teaching opportunity: when your child finds a gift that is above their allotted amount for that person, make them stay in their budget. Trust me here, in five years the actual gift will be forgotten, but the chance you have to show them financial discipline may save their marriage two decades from now.
2. Teach good stewardship. Kids’ generosity can warm your heart. Empower them to find a charity to donate some of their money to. The more they know about the cause, the better. And the earlier that kids understand our roles as servants to others, the quicker they can impact the community and even you.
3. Start a college savings plan for them. Even if it’s just a few bucks and they may look at the gift like it’s a pair of socks. But take a minute to explain to them that this is their fund to contribute to as well. I would find a fun way to promote college to them at the same time (maybe a cool college T-shirt.)
I am such a firm believer in helping teach our kiddos the skill of good money management and the discipline of saving while they are still young. I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season and I would love to hear your stories on how these ideas play out for you and your kids if you try them! Good luck and Merry Christmas!
Matt Atchison,is a financial advisor with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC in Omaha and is a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider of Financial Advice in the area. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and they enjoy watching their daughter learn and grow every day. Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org
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