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Learning about budgets perfect gift for children

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Instead of tackling all the holiday shopping solo this year, include children so they can see how far a dollar stretches.

The holidays are a great time to teach children the value of budgeting, said Laura Berry, a therapist with Centerstone in Columbus.

“Setting limits on spending teaches children how to set limits for themselves,” Berry said. “It also teaches self-discipline and self-worth, and improves communication between you and your child.”

To determine how much money a child should receive for gifts, take the time to help them prepare a list of who they want to shop for and make notes about possible gifts for each recipient, Berry said. Teach children that gift-giving is a great way to show someone how much they care, but it isn’t a good reason to go into debt.

“Whatever (amount) you decide, be prepared to explain it to your children,” Berry said.

Shannon and Randy Royer of Columbus give their 13-year-old daughter, Josie, money to buy gifts for other people each year. Shannon said it teaches Josie the value of a dollar, and she encourages other parents to do the same with their children.

“She quickly realizes how fast the money goes, and it puts things in perspective for her,” Royer said. “Realizing how quick the money goes allows kids some responsibility and ownership for what they give and receive.”

Berry said it’s important to children to understand that there are natural consequences for overspending. If they overspend on one person, resist the urge to cough up a little more cash and instead help them make choices.

This also is a great time to encourage a little thrifty creativity. Help children make some of their gifts to help stretch those holiday dollars, Berry said.

She suggests making salt dough ornaments. Just mix one cup each of flour, salt and water, color with food coloring, and cut out using cookie cutters. Decorate, then bake on very low heat for up to three hours.

Or take this tip from local blogger Amanda Faulkner, who offers parenting and money-saving tips at

The mother of one suggests decorating plain white coffee mugs with bright-colored permanent markers, then filling the decorated mugs with holiday treats, such as hot chocolate packets or a pair of mittens.

Most of all, be sure to instill the age-old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.”

“A child learning to give learns they can make a positive difference in another’s life,” Berry said.

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