Holiday Money Lessons for Kids

Holiday Money Lessons for Kids - picture of girl in white winter clothes blowing snow at camera

This article may contain references to some of our advertising partners. Should you click on these links, we may be compensated. For more about our advertising policies, read our full disclosure statement here.

Huzzah! The Christmas season is finally over, and DAAAAYUUMMM am I glad. Now that we’ve finally dug ourselves out from the avalanche of new Frozen items, it is nice to sit back and reflect a little about this Christmas season. Along with spending quality family time with our kids, we also tried to use this holiday season as an opportunity to teach our girls a few things that we think are important about money. Here are a few of the things that we actively tried to teach our kids this holiday season.

The Importance of Giving

There is something about being a parent that makes me want to be a better person than the cold-hearted miser that I am. I certainly try to set a good example for my girls, and I want them to grow into kind, caring adults. It comes pretty naturally to them, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them of how fortunate we are and that not everybody is as lucky. We want them to know the importance of lending their friends and neighbors a hand when they need it, so we made sure to bring them along when we went shopping for our local food pantry. The kids enjoyed finding things that they thought others may enjoy eating, and it was a chance to teach them that doing small things can make a big difference for others.

Saving for a Goal

A few weeks ago, Holly brought our 5-year-old to Satan’s Lair our local Walmart. While shopping for some milk, our daughter spied a couple of things that she really wanted – a craft organizer and a new booster seat for the car. It was a super proud moment for mommy, seeing her little angel succumb to the OCD that surely runs through her veins. Yet, rather than buying those things for her, Holly suggested that she save some of her Christmas money to buy whatever she wanted. So, when she received several gift cards, our daughter was uber excited. “Do I have enough to get those things Daddy?” she beamed. I assured her that she did, and we went out and let her pay for her craft organizer and new booster seat all by herself – smiling from ear to ear.

Spending Decisions have Consequences

While we were at the store picking up her new items, our daughter did find a few other things that she thought she might like. Holly and I explained to her that we didn’t care what she got (please get the organizer, please get the organizer, please get the organizer) but that if she bought a new puzzle, she wouldn’t have enough for the craft organizer. Only she could decide what she really wanted. She decided to spend her money on the things she really wanted (Booya!) and skip the impulse buy. After paying for the organizer and booster, she asked, “Do I still have enough money to put some in my college fund?” Now, that’s my girl!

Too Much of a Good Thing…

In preparation for the deluge of Frozen toys, we decided to clear some space in the kids area of the house. And thus, the great toy purge of 2014 began. Our kids are relatively used to this, as we usually purge their things about twice a year. Not only was this a good opportunity to teach the kids that they can’t keep everything, it also turned into another opportunity to teach them about giving. Although we threw some of the old stuff out – like those freakin’ Happy Meal that kept puncturing the bottom of my feet – we did put together two trash bags full of toys to give to the local thrift store. The kids helped us decide what to get rid of, and they also helped us give their old toys away. So, now the house is clean, our kids learned something about giving, AND somebody else will get to enjoy the old toys. Triple Win!!!

Although they may not have realized that we were trying to teach them about money, hopefully our children will remember the lessons learned this Christmas for the rest of their lives. How about you? Did you use the holiday season to teach your kids about anything this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Additional reading:

Similar Posts

Disclaimer: Comments, responses, and other user-generated content is not provided or commissioned by this site or our advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by this website or our advertisers. It is not the responsibility of our advertisers or this website to ensure that all comments and/or questions are answered. Club Thrifty has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Club Thrifty and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


  1. That’s what parents need to be, Greg. We parents want to set good examples to kids. We try to guide them through making them good citizens and true child of God. Responsibility of parents is endless and tedious so we’d better be ready and informed at all times for them.

    1. Thanks Jayson. Just doing my best over here 😉

  2. Cute story! Every year our kids have to make the tough choice about what they can and can’t buy with their Christmas gift cards. They’ve gotten better at it as the years have passed.

    1. It can be tough to make those decisions as a kid. Hopefully, they will just continue to learn and grow 🙂

  3. Nice one Greg! I have a seven year old daughter too, some of her godparents gave her money, I asked her if she wants to buy something and she told me that she prefers to save her money to her bank. 🙂

  4. Yay for getting rid of old toys before the new toys come in! Sounds like they learned some great lessons, whether they know it or not 🙂

    1. I hope they did! And yes, we have to purge toys a couple of times a year. Otherwise, it just gets to be too much.

  5. That’s so good Greg. It’s important for kids nowadays to learn while they are young. You should be proud of yourselves! Have a great year ahead.

  6. For me, Christmas is the best season to start making family traditions that our children can pass on to our future grandkids and so on 🙂

    1. Family traditions are great! Sometimes, I wish we had more but we are starting to build some now.

  7. I remember being little and learning about money this way as well. I wanted an NES and had to save up for it. I used all of my birthday and Christmas money for it and I can say I treated it better because I knew how much it cost since I used my own money.

    1. It is funny how that works, isn’t it? When you’ve worked hard for something, you almost always treat it better than if it was given to you.

  8. Thats cool that your kids help you purge. My sister-in-law just puts certain toys away and if none of the kids ask about them within 6 months then they go to goodwill. It works well for them but I like the idea of doing it with the kids.

    1. We’ve also done the same thing on occasion. Usually, we let them play with things for a while until we get rid of them, but not always. Between holidays and birthdays, it gets to be a lot.

  9. nice mpost,sometimes I try to talk and learn something about finances/savings/decisions to lovely almost 3 year old reverend’s daughther (I’m her nanny) I am sure is never too soon to understand imprtance of cents!!!

    1. IMO, it is never too early to learn about the importance of good financial decisions!

  10. We went through the same decrapifying of the toys before Christmas and so glad we did. We’re going through something similar ourselves with our oldest tow in having them decide what to do with the money they got for Christmas – we put a huge chunk of it away in their 529s, but it’s still fun helping them walk through making a hopefully good decision. 🙂

    1. Hopefully, helping guide them but ultimately leaving the decision up to them will help to build both financial smarts and confidence.

  11. catherine says:

    It is SO important to give kids financial control so they learn these things. I’m big advocate for allowance and allowing kids to manage some of the family spending. If you need to buy new clothes for the kid give them the money to handle and help they shop— they will gain a much better understanding of the entire process than if you just go to the store and buy it for them.

    1. I like your style Catherine! I agree. Along with learning basic financial principles, hopefully it helps them build confidence in themselves as well.

  12. That’s great that you were able to get a financial teaching moment for your daughter out of the holidays. I’ve been introducing to my Little Sis the concepts of cost and delayed gratification and she really seems to be catching on to it.

    1. Ah, delaying gratification! That is one of my favorite concepts, and it is a tough one too. Most adults haven’t even caught on to that one, so good for your sis 🙂

  13. Nicely done Greg. We try and do the same with our 3 children, although a bit older then yours. Important to teach them about giving and making wise decision with their money. Just this weekend my daughter was shopping for a new book with a gift card she received and opt for the paperback over the hardcover to save some $. No prompting from me, but was glad to see the decision.

  14. LOVE what you guys are doing with the kids – we are doing the same thing, and it’s helped them learn to be great money managers, givers and savers. Woohoo!!!

    1. Thanks Laurie! We talk about money with them quite a bit, and we have since they were young. We’ve even got a few books about it that they like to read.

  15. My son has actually really started to identify with too much of a good thing. His birthday is in February and until this year, we would finish out Christmas, and immediately the long birthday gift list grew. This year he only wants two things for his birthday. I love progress in kids! Only took 8 years. 🙂

    1. LOL! He is way ahead of the curve then. Most people never catch on to that!

    1. Thanks Tonya! Hopefully they get something out of it 😀

  16. DC1 has been going through his first purge (with him making the purging choices) this past week. He’s been astonishingly good about it. The school garage sale will be getting a LOT of good stuff.

    1. Nice! We pretty much let our kids make most of the purge decisions too. I think it helps so that they don’t feel like we are “taking” anything away from them. They get to make the decisions on what stays and goes.

  17. “Do I still have enough money to put in my college fund?” Oh man…I think I would have a tear in my eye if I hear my little one say that. Awesome! Also great that you’re teaching the girls the importance of giving. That’s definitely something I want to teach my child when he’s old enough to understand it. I’m still enjoying the age when he couldn’t care less about Christmas presents…prefers playing with the box and wrapping paper.

    1. Oh trust me, I got a big smile on my face when the college fund came up! Something is getting through to her 🙂

    1. Agreed. Delaying gratification can even be difficult for the cheapest of us!

  18. “Do I still have enough money to put some in my college fund?” Now THAT would bring a tear to my eye. Well done.

    1. Thank you! It was a very proud moment 😀 Even the cashier was impressed!

  19. Great lessons to teach the little ones early on in life. I upgraded my kids piggy banks, with animal theme bank this year, and they loved it. Every time they find a coin, they ask me, can I save this coin now dad. Hopefully they will be ultra savers in the future.

    1. For Christmas, my kids actually received a piggy bank that counts the total as you put money in. They love putting money in to see just how much they have in the jar. I thought it was a great gift idea!

  20. I just love that she wanted an organizer!!!! 🙂
    We talked to our son about going through his toys and donating the ones he no longer played with to other children. He specified that he wanted them going to girls, not boys though. It’s a start I guess…

    1. LOL! That is hilarious. Why girls and not boys, I wonder?

      What can I say about the organizer? She loves her crafts…and she has a lot of her mother in her 😀

  21. Love this, Greg! The holidays offer so many money lessons for kids and I’m glad you take advantage of them. And have such smart girls too! I know it always makes me so proud when the girls make good financial decisions without my coaching. I have learned to internalize my happy dance since it embarrasses them when I do it at the store. 🙂

    1. Luckily, our kids haven’t reached the age of embarrassment yet – but we just try to encourage them and reinforce their good decisions. Of course, reading them great books like “The Lemonade Stand” also helps reinforce those good financial habits. (We read your book again just 2 nights ago. The kids love it!)

  22. Great lessons to teach the young kids. I’m planning to teach our son once he’s a bit older, he’s only 1 right now. 🙂

    1. Yeah, work on the talking first…then its full speed ahead. At least it was for us 🙂 Have a great new year!

  23. Luis Perez says:

    Great article Greg, Im new to the clubthrifty blog and hope to read all these awesome posts. In the past couple of days I read at least 40 different posts, all from the horrible insurances in Indiana to your house search to you switching jobs to starting a new blog and finally your Christmas posts. I spent hours catching up on your “life” and Holly’s and can say it was fun and entertaining. I am planning on starting my blog (I have been contemplating it for 2 years) and I just hope I can manage it with college and all. I would be glad to achieve a quarter of you and Holly’s success. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to reading every new post.

    1. Great! Let us know if you ever need any advice or help. You can email me directly.

      1. Luis Perez says:

        Thank you so much so much for being generous,kind, and offering to help, I hope to have my blog up before the 16th. Look forward to seeing your next post

  24. I love that you and Holly took some time to fit in some money lessons during the crazy holiday season! We also got to do a day long toy-purge and organization, but it all fits nicely back into the Ikea cabinet. Wahoo! I love this: “It doesn’t hurt to remind them of how fortunate we are and that not everybody is as lucky.” We try to remind our daughter of this often, but I would love to take her to volunteer with me when she gets a little older.

  25. Great to hear that you utilized the holiday season to teach your kids finance lessons. I don’t have any kids, but I definitely hope to teach them lessons in the Holiday season. I did teach a kid at a wedding this past weekend a few finance lessons – supply and demand, sales, entrepreneurship….my wife got a kick out of it.

  26. I love reading ideas for helping kids understand the power of money. Mini #1 is not yet three, but we are still trying to teach him anything he can understand. An ‘aha’ moment happened while he was potty training (so much of life as a two-year-old revolves around the bathroom!). After an unsuccessful trip, he wanted to flush but we told him no because he hadn’t used the water. Further inquiry led us to say that water costs money. His response was priceless as “Well. I want some money!” Exactly our point – you can have every penny that you do t soend. I do truly look forward to the days when our lessons in money management graduate from bathroom talk though!!

  27. Great job guys! Love that you took the time to share and teach financial (and other) lessons to your girls this holiday season.

  28. I don’t have kids yet, but I do have nephews and a niece. I generally give them a card each Christmas and birthday with a check and a note that “college is expensive” and they’ll thank me in the future. I still buy them a little toy or gift, but the bigger gift is the money (and hopefully the conversations we’re having from a very young age about money and saving).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.