September 10, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition (Part Three)

Spend Less, Give More

The gift that keeps on giving

As parents, it can be very tempting to want to give children lots of STUFF. Stuff they need, stuff they want, stuff you want, stuff they don't even know they want. Fulfilling my 3 year-old's wish list this year, would have cost roughly $1,000,000. 
Nope, not a typo. Along with a squirt gun, toy cars, a Buzz Lightyear with wings and a laser, a golf glove, a birthday cake, and plenty of other things I don't remember. 
He also wanted a four-wheeler, a tractor, and a combine, and he didn't mean toys or power wheels. 
I purchased a few of the things that were reasonable, but less than I could have, and far less than he wanted.

He did get the "Red Combine" cake he wanted, thanks to a little spray paint:).

Most of us have financial constraints that limit what, and how much we purchase for our children. 

I'd like to suggest setting a budget of how much you can spend on your child, and then spending less than that. If possible, significantly less.

Before you draw the conclusion that it doesn't seem NICE or FAIR or GENEROUS. Hear me out.

Buy a couple of things that will make your child very happy, but stop before you hit your spending limit, and put the rest into savings for that child.
I started this when my oldest turned One. There aren't many things a one-year-old really wants or needs, but there can be many things a parent wants for their one-year-old. I decided rather than fall into that trap I would buy a few presents and then put the rest of the money I had budgeted into his UESP education fund. It continues to motivate me to shop sales and limit my overall spending, knowing that I am giving him a far more valuable gift than another toy or shirt he doesn't need. We may not be able to pay for much of our kids schooling, I don't know what our financial future will hold, but something is better than nothing.

The type of savings you choose for your child may vary based on your values, goals, abilities, and the age of your child, some people don't want to pay for college or trade school.

Other savings goals may include:
First Car
Down Payment on a Home
Custodial IRA (if your child has earned income. This money could be used for education, retirement or a first home. If you choose to go this route discuss the pros/cons and risks thoroughly with a financial adviser.)

Remember, small amounts add up. Investing just $20 twice a year (Birthday and Christmas), for 18 years at a 6% rate of return, would yield about $1200 upon graduating from high school. Now that's a gift.

More than anything, this gift can teach them the power of sacrifice, self-control, and delayed gratification, and that's a gift that keeps on giving.

View my disclosure here.

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