Teach kids about fiscal responsibility and the joy of giving


Christmas is a pretty exciting time for kids. But this favorite holiday can also be an educational experience, especially when it comes to shopping for others.

This is when parents can share some important lessons, from thinking about others to understanding fiscal literacy, says Dr. Mary Manz Simon, parenting expert and author. 

“This can be a wonderful opportunity for kids to grow and learn,” said Manz Simon, a mother of three and a grandmother. With a doctorate in early childhood education, Manz Simon has shared practical advice for parents in her newspaper columns, radio spots, and books for decades.

Some of her best tips include:

Make a list
The first step is figuring out for whom to buy or make gifts. Not sure what to get? Manz Simon suggests having the child visualize that person’s day. As a result, it may become clear that oven mitts would delight a grandma who often bakes cookies or a wallet would please a grandpa who wants to show off his family photos.

Set a budget
Set an amount your child can spend on gifts for others. This is a good time to have a conversation about spending what you have, not what you wish you had. Do research before setting foot in a store. Give your child a marker to go through flyers from Meijer and other retailers to circle some potential gifts. This is a practical way to see how much things cost and look for deals. Show your children how to clip coupons.

You build those habits so that, when you get to this glitzy season, you can still make thoughtful decisions because you’ve learned these behaviors.
— Dr. Mary Manz Simon

Shop with friends
If your older children are clamoring for some independence, let them Christmas shop while you grocery shop at Meijer. They can find affordable gifts for everyone on their list from toys to electronics to clothing. Your savvy shoppers will appreciate being able to stretch their dollars by tapping into the family’s mPerk rewards for more savings. Look for the retailer’s holiday gift guide at the store entrance.


Partner on presents
Consider having a child partner with someone else on a bigger gift. Making giving a team event adds a fun factor — from the shopping to the wrapping to keeping a secret together. Manz Simon recommends this strategy especially for preschoolers and younger kids. 

“If they are joining with their cousin or their mom or their dad to buy a present for somebody, they will giggle their whole way through,” Manz Simon said.

Priceless gifts
Remind your children that not everything needs to be purchased to be valued. They can put their artwork in frames or give a coupon book filled with commitments to spend time together. These kinds of gifts will be especially treasured by grandparents and older relatives. 

Give to those in need
Adopting a family or a child for the holidays will offer your children an opportunity to think about those who are less fortunate. Manz Simon also suggests adding a giving box next to your recycling bin as a visual reminder for kids to put in things they outgrow or no longer want that can be given to a charity to share with someone else. 

Helping your child experience the sheer joy that comes with generosity is a meaningful way to celebrate the holidays. 

Children who grow up learning to give from their heart will want to be more generous, simply because, psychologically, it feels so good inside.
— Dr. Mary Manz Simon

Manz Simon’s latest book is “My Christmas Story Tree.” Published by Zonderkidz, this board book leads little ones through the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree.




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