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Don't let the kids' wish lists bust your holiday budget

The holidays can lead to emotion-driven spending.

Dec. 10, 2018

Many parents try to buy everything on their kid's holiday list, even if it means blowing up the family budget.

Nearly half the parents surveyed by T. Rowe Price agreed with this statement: “I try to get everything on my kids’ lists, no matter the cost.”

Those who do try to cross everything off the list are more likely to finance their holiday spending and more likely to have gone into debt than those who don’t, the survey showed.

"So what that tells us is parents may be putting their money in a place – their kids' holiday list – when they have bigger priorities that might be better for them to be focusing on,” said Stuart Ritter, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price.

Liliana Lengua, director of the Center for Child & Family Well-Being at the University of Washington, tells parents that if their family is going to use wish lists, they should put some boundaries on them.

"Our kids grew up thinking Santa Claus liked to see wish lists that are restrained, that Santa preferred to get letters from kids who really only asked for one or two or three things and maybe consider that one of the things you asked for might be for someone who might not get something.” Lengua said.

“Parents with a tight holiday budget can do their children and themselves a favor by focusing on what’s affordable and having honest conversations about managing money during the holidays,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of marketing at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “Those lessons might be the gift that outlasts all others, by helping children become financially responsible adults.

More Info: Parents, the holidays can lead to emotion-driven spending. Don't fall for it.

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