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Worried About How Much To Spend On Your Kids This Year?

Worried About How Much To Spend On Your Kids This Year?

I had a recent conversation with my best friend who is a new mom this year, and we were discussing shopping for Christmas presents primarily as a parent shopping for our kids. She told me Christmas shopping stresses our her out more than anything else. It's hard to decide what to buy and how much to spend.

Personally, I’ve been bothered by the fact that I have been hearing a lot of people saying the same thing. I’ve also seen a lot of people online asking how much is too much? If you Google it, there are articles on the Internet where people write how much you should spend on a child. Honestly, I think that these numbers are arbitrary. 

Let me explain. 

I saw a YouTube video from Christmas morning recently from a Vlogging family, and the presents for the children filled the entire living room. I’m sitting there trying not to judge. The first thing to pop into my head was the odds are they got sent a lot of PR gifts by toy companies. 

Social Media can also be a place where we figure out what we are comfortable with giving our children. Its also place where we can get mixed messages on whats appropriate, and experience or witness parent shaming. 

You will see this every year on Facebook; someone will post a picture of the gifts for the children. Usually a room full.  People will come out of the woodwork to comment on what they think about it. 

You will also find people posting about how too many gifts can make other children feel bad. As a child, I never sat there and told everyone every present I ever got. I don’t recall my friends doing the same thing. I get it; the intent was to help, but still, telling parents how they should label gifts is a little extreme. Unsolicited parenting advice is usually meant to help but comes off a little offensive. 

You can’t win as a parent if you buy too many presents; people are going say you’re spoiling your kids, and if you don’t buy enough gifts you feel like crap.

Parents that are facing financial difficulties that can’t afford gifts are going through enough. Not only are they concerned about their children and providing for them, but the added stress of feeling like you're not doing enough can be devastating. Not to add many of these parents won't be able to provide for their own needs if they spend money on the kids. Many parents go without to provide for their children. 

My husband and I have been there. We just had a discussion that went like this.  I said to my husband "honey this year for Christmas we should buy each other a tire." My husband is silent; I know this means he agrees but does not want to say it because giving each other a tire sucks. We both work hard. We need tires now which means we cannot buy gifts for one another, plus we have to work even harder to earn money for tires and an alignment. 

The sad truth is no tires means no driving. No driving means we cant get to work. The discussion ends with deciding who buys the left tire and who buys the right. I'm sure millions of parents are faced with similar impossible decisions this time of year. Things break. Buying groceries or a trip to the doctor can put you in the red. 

Pat: This woman has an interesting take on which Christmas presents should be from "Santa" or not. I'll be honest, I'...

Posted by 92.9 The Bull on Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I’ve been there before, and it’s horrible feeling, People further commenting on who should do what and how much does nothing to help. The Facebook post I shared made me laugh when I saw it in 2014, because the truth is, when you're in a situation where you can't afford to buy presents for your kids, this is not a thought you have asking others to change the way they label gifts to accommodate your financial situation. I have more significant concerns than my child thinking Santa stiffed him. Like putting food on the table. These thoughts usually come from people who have no idea because they have the time to think of such trivial things. 

I think this needs to be said it does not matter how much money you spend on your child for Christmas it’s one day of the year. There’s no right or wrong answer on how much to spend on Christmas. What matters is what you do every single day of the year not just Christmas. If you teach your children to value what they have and to have gratitude, you won’t end up with a spoiled child. One Christmas is not going to ruin them.

We overlook the bigger picture it’s one day of the year. You need to use your judgment and discretion when it comes to purchasing Christmas gift for your children. You’re the one that knows best. If you know buying them what they asked for and it's going to end up collecting dust then don’t buy it or go ahead because you know it will but want them to be happy. It's your choice you are the parent. 

Save the budgeting for gifts for people from the office. Save the budgeting for decorations. Budget the gifts for neighbors. What I’m saying is worry more about what you’re spending on other people and not your kids. If you can afford gifts for the kids, but not everyone else then put your kids first if it pleases you.

Most smaller children won't pout on Christmas morning they did not get what they wanted. You could go to the dollar store and get them several presents for under $20, and I'm sure they will be happy.

The problem is not everyone can spare $20, and not everyone gets help from family or local food banks it is not always that simple. If you work 18 hours a day and already have transportation issues, you don't have the time or gas to dive somewhere else. The choice is you risk your job for free food. Work will always win. Some people have no one to turn to when you put that into perspective I think you then understand what your spending on your kids once a year is not that important. 

Another thing that makes a lot of people nervous is buying gifts for other peoples children. Ask the parents what they want. If they give you a four or five different items and are all under $25, then the odds are they’re comfortable with you spending about $25 on the child.

But let’s be real here if you’re looking up how much to spend on presents you’re probably in a position where you’re honestly concerned about spoiling your children, or you don’t have the money to buy the kids Christmas presents and are looking for some comfort hoping the guide will give that.

If your the latter this is the time of year if you have people in your life offering to help take them up on it. Let your family and friends help you this year if that is an option.  You could try local organizations like Toys For Tots. I get it though if there is a but in that equation. Sometimes getting help is hard because you can't take time off of work to pick the gifts up or the organization has nothing left to give. It will be ok. Things will get better. 

If you're the former, I am not going to tell you how to spend money on your children. It's your choice, but if you care to look it up, it means you care and that the likelihood is you will not spoil your kids. Remember it is one day and if you want to be sure your kids understand the value of money and possessions are not everything teach them. 

Lastly, do not compare yourself to anyone else all this holiday season. That’s why I brought up the Vlogging family I don’t know if they even bought all those presents. If someone shops the clearance isles at Target all year, they may be able to buy a lot of gifts for under a hundred dollars. I used to buy things that were on clearance and save them for Christmas.

It sucks to see pictures that show up on Facebook because a lot of parents will take a picture of the tree in the morning. When you’re having financial problems or when you think you did good enough and you see someone bought more than you did it can make you feel bad.  Don't feel sorry for it because it’s a no-win situation when you compare yourself to other people.

I can guarantee you though as the parent of an adult child they will not hold Christmas presents against you later in life. They might be upset Christmas morning because they didn’t get a specific toy but they will get over it. I can tell you though they’re not going to come back as adults and say that you didn’t get me that Nintendo and it ruined my life.

Christmas, after all, is one day of the year and it takes days, weeks, months, and even years, to spoil a child. We focus so much on the materialism of the season we forget that it is primarily one day of the year and that one day when putting it into perspective is not going to make or break you. Do the best you can and what you feel is best. The gifts you give your children that matter most cannot be wrapped and put under a tree and never forget that. 

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