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For your child, Christmas means receiving an endless stream of gifts and money. Here’s your chance to see how he’ll take care of the cash and his new possessions, and gives you the opportunity to help him learn how to handle his money and belongings. Teach him how to save up and spend wisely without zapping his holiday high!

Encourage, don’t force.
When kids feel like they’re being bullied into doing something, you’ll encounter a lot of resistance from their end. Instead of forcing your child to set aside the entire amount he received over the holidays, why don’t you urge him to save at least half of it to spend for the next special occasion (like his birthday) or even donate a portion of it to your church? Sharing what they have with the less fortunate teaches your kids not to be selfish or too attached to material things.

Set up a Christmas allowance.
Instead of giving your child the whole amount he received over the holidays, divide it into smaller portions to be given at specific times. This teaches him that his resources are limited, gives him control over what he wants to do with his money (spend it on candies or save up for a bigger treat?), allows him to distinguish between wants and needs, and lets him learn from his monetary mistakes as early as possible.    

Allow a treat.
Children can become blinded by the shopping possibilities their Christmas cash offers, but instead of letting them completely blow their holiday money, discuss how they plan to use it given a price ceiling. Let them weigh their options, and show them the pros and cons of each possible purchase. While your son might initially pick the newest Nintendo DS game, he might have more fun playing with two toys (such as a car and a robot) in the long run. After he makes his choices, feel free to stash away his change.

Make saving up sound like fun.
Christmas is a good time for you to teach him the importance of saving. On your next trip to the bank, take your child with you with the intention of depositing his money. Make the outing an exciting time for him—let him fill up the bank forms (with your help, of course!), line up for the actual transaction, and keep his passbook as a reminder of how much he’s saved up so far.

Help him save all year round.
Convert the Christmas cash he sets aside into coins and put them into a big transparent piggy bank—that way, he can see his actual money increase! Persuade him to set specific goals for the next few months (i.e. P50 a month), and do your part by matching his contribution in coins each time he delivers. He’ll see that saving money is a commitment, not to mention a team effort!

For more money-related articles, read:
•    “The Buck Starts Here” by Tata Mapa, Smart Parenting Magazine August 2009
•    “This Year, I Promise to…” by Bubbles Salvador, Good Housekeeping Magazine December 2009
•    5 important tios to teaching your children good spending habits on thefreelibrary.com
•    How to appropriately save birthday and holiday windfalls on kaboose.com
•    10 tips to handle allowances successfully on msnbc.com

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(Photo source: sxc.hu)

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