What lessons are your children learning from your holiday spending?

By  | 

December 26, 2006

The cost of Christmas is most likely starting to sink in.

The American Research Group predicts the average American spent close to $900 on gifts this year.

And parents beware: How you spent your money could later impact the way your children spend theirs.

If you're anything like Virginia Gouric, your car becomes your Christmas carriage.

The grandmother of seven predicts she'll spend close to eight hundred dollars this holiday.

Other shoppers, not so much.

"I think I'll be a lot closer to the $600," said Jeff Crews.

Either way, now is the time to budget...if not for yourself, then for your kids.

"The children see almost everything you do, and so if they see you spending a lot of money, they think it's ok to spend a lot of money," financial advisor Will Rogers told News 12.

When winter comes, Rogers tells his clients that overspending puts them on the naughty list.

He says what goes under your tree is a showing receipt of responsibility, and that parents owe their little helpers the lesson of living without.

But maybe that's easier said than done.

"It's like, things that he sees, he wants, I buy it," said shopper Erica Burton. "So, try to just, like...make him happy."

Big mistake, says Rogers...because he'll likely grow up guilt-free with his money.

"I want parents to pick the gift that's most appropriate and then get that for their kids," Rogers said. "Don't get everything."

That's advice Virginia takes to heart. She taught her kids how to hunt for bargains.

"Even now, my baby is 36 years old. He still asks what to get and where to get it," she said.

So perhaps the best gift parents can give doesn't fit in a cart, and isn't even store-bought.

Here are some ways to think about saving money next year, from moneysavingexpert.com.

Make a list of those you'll be buying for, then decide how much you can spend for each gift. That way, you'll know when to quit.

Also, spread the cost of Christmas over three or four months. Don't wait until December to start saving.

Finally, don't neglect 2007. Come January, cards and decorations will go on sale, and that's a good time to stock up.