But Muu-uuuum!!

Liz Dunscombe

Liz DunscombeThe words that are destined to stir a wide range of uncomfortable emotions in mums everywhere, closely followed by “All my friends…”

Whether the discussion is about attending a particular event or the purchasing of the latest must have item, kids very quickly learn the power of such phrases. Not only do they stir the natural maternal instinct of wanting the best for our kids, they probably also take us back to our own childhood and at least one occasion when we didn’t have something, or weren’t allowed to go somewhere!

It took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t the only parent who said no on safety grounds or stuck to my budget for Christmas presents. Not that my kids were lying (well not regularly anyway); they just focused on their friends that did have, rather than other members of the group who, like them, did not have.

As a family we resolved the expensive present issue by gaining the co-operation of the wider family.

If someone wanted a high-cost item, the aunts, uncles and grandparents agreed that they would throw their present budget in with ours to make it possible. The child understood that if they asked for something big, they might get it but it would be the only present they had to open on Christmas Day.

This often tested just how much the child wanted the item for themselves and how much it was because of peer pressure – opening one parcel and then watching everyone else open another seven is quite a testing experience, even for teenagers! But teaching kids about money management from an early age will help them understand the concept of money and budgeting, so should make decisions such as these easier to swallow!

Recent research shows that this year 2/3 of people are putting a financial cap on present buying and using a variety of strategies (gift lists, vouchers/cash) to ensure that money isn’t wasted on unwanted items. Nearly a quarter of us are also planning to give something homemade – it’s never been clearer that “everyone else” is not getting their wish-list either…

Liz Dunscombe, from the money education charity Credit Action, is mum to a pair of rather tall, adult (well in age anyway!) boys. Her passion is helping people to manage their money well, and watching the transformation that a well-constructed budget can bring to a family.