Santa short on cash? What to tell your kids

In theory, the holiday season is supposed to be about celebration and enjoying the company of family and friends. In reality, unfortunately, the holiday season is a bit of a shopping free-for-all. This can be a particularly stressful time of year for those who are already on a strict budget.

But how do you explain to your kids that Santa may not be able to bring all of the items on the list, because he simply doesn’t have the cash? Cast that parental guilt aside. There is an opportunity here to teach real life lessons about money in a really relevant way.

Set expectations

While it is fun to let the kids lose and let them make lists that are as long as their arm, you may want to participate in the list writing, so as to temper expectations.

Be honest with your kids on an ongoing basis about budget and spending.  You don’t need to be too specific, but make them aware of the relationship between what comes into the house (income) and what must go out every month (expenses). You don’t want to alarm them, but filtered honesty is a good approach.

Set limits

You know how they say “under promise and over deliver”. That is a perfect way to approach this situation. If your kids are expecting a bunch of things, but only get a couple, they will be disappointed. The opposite is true. This is how you breed gratitude.

Focus on less material things

It’s time to get back to basics and to focus on the things in life that really matter- your family, your friends and your health- none of which can be bought in a store.

Make a point of spending meaningful time together over the holidays. Go for walks, bake, make a gingerbread house or homemade ornaments. Have a snowball fight. Go through old pictures. Go visit an old friend. The list is endless and meaningful.