3 Gifts Every Parent Needs to Give Their Kids

3 Gifts Every Parents Needs To Give Their Kids | www.TheHeavyPurse.comWe spend countless hours on the hunt for the perfect gifts for our kids. We venture into malls where we spend as much time searching for a parking spot as we do in stores filled with short-tempered shoppers. Why? For that opportunity to see our kids’ eyes light up and hear their shouts of joy when they unwrap their presents Christmas morning. That moment makes us forget everything else. I certainly treasure those moments too. However, there are three nontraditional gifts that I’d like you to give your kids this Christmas too. But don’t worry – you don’t even have to buy or shop for these presents.

3 Gifts Every Child Needs

This Christmas morning, your children may value those brightly wrapped presents under the tree and in their stockings more, but these additional gifts are the ones they will remember forever. Best of all, these gifts are free and only require a little bit of time and effort on your part.

1. A Strong Financial Foundation

We do a lot to give our kids the best life possible, but too often I see parents overlook the strength of their financial foundation. This is a huge mistake. A weak foundation will crumble under even the smallest pressure, leaving you and your kids struggling. Your kids may want the latest and greatest toy but what they need is financial security, and it’s up to you to make sure your financial foundation is well-fortified.

Reduce and Eliminate Debt

Debt has become so commonplace and many people don’t understand the risk their debt carries. They don’t bat an eye when they slide their credit card to pay for things they want but cannot afford. Debt significantly weakens your financial foundation, so it’s important you get it under control and take steps to eliminate it, especially your consumer debt. Learn more on how to talk to kids about here.

Establish an Emergency Fund

I recommend having between 3-12 months of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund. I know that may seem like a lot, but if you lose your job, it’s amazing how quickly three months go by. Additionally, if you have a job where your income is highly variable, a larger emergency fund makes sense as you may need to dip into it more frequently to cover regular expenses during slow periods.

Protect Your Family Against the Unknown

I instantly became a Mama Bear the moment the nurse put Lauren in my arms. Everything changed in that moment and my top priority immediately became to protect, care and love her. We hate the idea that something could prevent us from doing our job as parents, yet it can and does happen. Make sure your family is protected if something happens to you by having life insurance to provide financial support, a will or estate plan to direct how your assets should be distributed and to designate a guardian for your children.

Put Your Financial Affairs in Order

One thing I see time and time again is couples where one handles everything financial-related and the other is often in the dark. They aren’t even doing this maliciously, but this can lead to huge problems if the spouse that handles the money dies first. So first and foremost, make sure your spouse is fully aware of your financial situation, even if you remain in charge of keeping the books, so to speak. For more information, read my 7 Steps to Put Your Finances in Order.

2. Set Family Goals Together

The best way to take control of your money is to set goals and budget. And unfortunately those are two things that many families are guilty of not doing. So let’s do it together. We set save, spend and share goals as family and it’s something we look forward to doing every year. When the girls were toddlers, we started talking to them about how we were using the family money. Now that they are older, they have more input in how we use it.

Money Needs a Purpose

The girls know our money has a purpose and the role they play in helping us achieve our goals. This makes a huge difference in how they view family money. It’s not that they no longer want things because they do, but a simple reminder of what we are saving our money for (typically a vacation), changes the discussion. Instead of feeling deprived, they get excited about our goal. They have experienced the satisfaction of achieving goals and know it’s worth staying focused on what matters most. For more help with setting goals, read How To Ensure Your Goals Align with What You Truly Want.

3. Teach Kids about Money

This is the biggest opportunity that too many parents miss. We do so much to give our kids everything they need to succeed in life, but we don’t teach them how to use their money wisely and every child will handle money as adults. Most kids struggle on their own with making good money decisions and it can take years from them to course correct. This doesn’t have to happen. You can change your children’s life with simple conversations around money.

Make Value-Based Decisions with Money

One of the most important lessons my Father taught me was that money was emotional, which is why goals were so important. Goals could guide my decisions, even when I was feeling emotional. This was also one of the first lessons I taught my girls as well and encourage you to do the same. Being clear on what you want and letting your goals guide how you use your money will mean fewer money regrets and mistakes.

Chose to Not Play Keep Up

This is trap that entangles so many of us. We start comparing our lives to others and find our own lacking. We start playing keep up, just to impress others and feel good. The problem is we end up spending money we don’t have and on things we don’t truly want. This leaves us without money for the things we truly desire and enrich our lives. Encourage your kids to focus on what they want, whether or not anyone else wants it.

Learn to Appreciate Blessings

One common complaint against kids these days are that they are entitled. Now, in fairness, I think every new generation has that title bestowed on them because they do have advantages that previous generations did not. At the same time, there are definitely entitled kids who expect everything handed to them. I feel very blessed that we are able to provide a good life to Lauren and Taylor, but we also make clear to them that we don’t feel entitled to that life. We acknowledge and appreciate our blessings daily. Gratitude is one of the best defenses against entitlement.

Priceless Gifts That Will Last Forever

Once Christmas has passed, it doesn’t take long before we find once treasured gifts discarded and forgotten. But these three gifts have no expiration date and never lose their value. Your kids will pass these same gifts onto their children, which is one family tradition you will be proud that they continue and honor. I definitely plan to give Lauren and Taylor these gifts this Christmas and hope you’ll do the same.


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December 15, 2014  •  35 Comments  •  Christmas

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  1. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    I totally agree with you about teaching your children about money. My parents never taught me about money and I sure wish they had. I am actively teaching my daughter the value of money, and helping her develop a discipline to save money. I never want her to make the same mistakes I did, and I am sure she will appreciate all my advice when she becomes of age.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      It's a common problem, Petrish. Money has been a taboo topic in homes for too long. It's unfortunate but the good news is many parents are starting to realize the need to talk to their kids about money. I'm glad you're actively teaching your caught about money and it will definitely make a difference in her life, now and later.
  2. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    I just like the idea that a family that saves together live a more meaningful life. Setting a family goals is really crucial in family. And being open about finance matters to kids is a delicate issue, but when it's successful, kids would surely play their part in saving and make an impact to the foundation of family's finances. Let's teach our kids about money management! Thanks Shannon.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      Absolutely, Jayson. That's a beautiful way to look at it - a family that saves together and work towards a common goal do live a more meaningful life. The girls now what are priorities are as a family and it does affect how they look at money. They understand why we can't always say "yes" and and the consequences of mindless spending. And I'm definitely 100% onboard to teaching kids about money management and I'm glad you are as well!
  3. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    I think it's awesome that your kids are a part of your family discussions about money. What a perfect way for them to learn the skills they'll need as adults. It seems like, too often, money is considered "not a topic for kids," which I've never understood. Such a good idea to incorporate these lessons/gifts at Christmas time!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      Thanks, Mrs. Frugalwoods. Sadly it is uncommon for parents to talk to kids about money, but we want to break the money taboo cycle in our home. Kids now that money represent power, so we need to teach how to wield that power wisely.
  4. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    Yes, yes, yes! If, as a parent, you teach your kids these three things and do them with your kids, you are putting them in the 1% in education alone. They will be so far ahead of the curve and setup for success. Great advice, Shannon.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      Absolutely, Natalie! Kids who understand how to use their money wisely and make good decisions with it are so far ahead of the curve. Parents do so much t help their kids succeed and talking about money needs to be priority #1.
  5. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    I think the gift of financial literacy is the gift parents need to think about giving every day (I even blogged about this today). As someone who didn't have a strong foundation, I understand the value of it and it is just as important if not more so as sending your child to school and supporting college for them. Money will impact their lives every single day, and schools do not cover this knowledge, so it's critical for parents to do so.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      Absolutely, Shannon. Every child will grow up to make decisions about money every day and if they don't know how to use their money wisely, we set them up to fail. Financial literacy is absolutely one of the most important gifts we can give our kids and unfortunately it's something many parents don't realize. I'm grateful that you're doing your part with both Will and through your clients and blogs to help increase awareness on the need for parents to talk to their kids about money.
  6. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    Love this post Shannon - I could not agree more. We actually had a conversation with a family member when they were here over Thanksgiving as to why we talk to our two oldest (who're newly 5 and &7) about money. We were basically told they didn't need to be bothered with it. Of course, this is my wheelhouse so it led to a fun conversation. :) Suffice it to say, it just reinforced our urge to do so...especially after seeing our kids know more than I did at that age.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      I bet that was an interesting conversation, John! It's such a common response and it makes me sad. People assume it's unnecessary or robs kids of their childhood, but that is simply not true. Your kids are definitely better off from having these conversations with you and from the money behaviors you and Nicole demonstrate every day to them.
  7. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    It's not just kids who need these gifts ;)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      Very true, Stefanie! This is a great gift to give to ourselves too. :)
  8. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    ha ha I have to agree with Stefanie's comment from above. We ALL need this advice!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      So true, Tonya! This gift comes with no age limit! :)
  9. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    All of these gifts you mentioned are priceless and long lasting, unlike the toys I see kids get so hung on during the holiday season :) I really need to work on assigning a purpose for money and communicating that clearly with my child. I have a 4-year-old and so far we’ve only worked on being grateful and appreciating blessings. We have a long way to go but I’m excited to share these financial gifts with him!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      It sounds like you have a great start with your son. Being grateful is so key and it's something many parents overlook. I find gratitude to be one of the best defenses against entitlement, which can be a problem with some kids. :) Your son is at a great age to start talking to him about how your using the family money.
  10. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    I think the whole entitlement thing is a really hard concept to grasp. We try really hard to stress how fortunate we are and how hard we worked to have the things we do, but I think it goes right over her head sometimes. All we can do is keep trying!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      I'm sure some of it does go over her head but she's still hears you appreciate the things you have. And that's great for her to witness, because too often kids hear their parents complain about what they don't have.
  11. Monday, December 15th, 2014
    These are all excellent gifts to give to kids. One thing I hope to give my kids is some money for college. I can't imagine them having to bear the burden (or maybe I can because my wife's parents didn't help at all). I also want to instill an entrepreneurial spirit, while not pushing them...I don't want them to think I'm disappointed in them if they don't start a business ;)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 15th, 2014
      Thanks, DC. Yes, being able to help out with paying college is definitely a gift that we plan to give to our girls too. And I have no doubt that you'll instill an entrepreneurial spirit in your kids, even they don't end up being entrepreneurs themselves, they will have a ton of respect for those who are.
  12. Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    I believe I am giving those gifts to my kids! My five-year-old seems to know what is going on with money. My three-year-old- not so much =)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
      I have no doubt that you are, Holly! Your three-year-old will catch on before you know it. :)
  13. Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    The "setting family (and personal) goals" for money is the stage we are moving into with our two oldest kids especially. The are at or near the teen years and money is becoming more of a need for them. All they have been doing up to this point is saving for the sake of saving. Now it's time to have goals for that saving. We are already talking about that "first car purchase" with our oldest daughter and figuring out how she will fund that when she turns 18(ish).
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
      And I bet your kids are really enjoying those conversations! You, out of everyone, know how much teens like to talk about money and more importantly be able to decide how to use it for themselves. It's an exciting time for them and it's great that they have you and Kim to help guide them.
  14. Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    While it's hard to wrap up those presents and give them to kids, they are great gifts indeed. I'd like to gift my son his first part-time job. :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
      Oh, that would be a great gift and I bet he'd love it too! First jobs are always so exciting. :)
  15. Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    The best gifts truly are free! Financial awareness is a blessing and I believe that children should be a part of it from as early an age as possible.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
      I agree, Kassandra. It is such a blessing and one of the most powerful gifts we can give our children.
  16. Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    I love this post. I cannot love it enough :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
      Awwww … thanks, Michelle!
  17. Friday, December 19th, 2014
    Absolutely right that these are priceless gifts. Gifts that will continue giving when your kids enter adulthood and financially responsible and confident. I can wait to impart these principles on my little one. Reading this was so refreshing after hearing my co-workers urge me to buy tons of gifts for my son. I'm not against getting him gifts but he's so young that he loses interest in his toys (which he has plenty of) and would much rather you play with him or play with an empty container/box.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Sunday, December 21st, 2014
      Absolutely, Andrew. These gifts can change our children's lives, far more so than any toy every will. And yes, at your son's young age - he really won't remember his presents so it doesn't make sense to spend a fortune, especially since they do seem to love the containers the toys come in more than the toys! LOL!
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    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan