Giving My Kids the Gift of Fiscal Responsibility this Holiday Season

Giving My Kids the Gift of Fiscal Responsibility this Holiday Season

My 3 daughters, ages 10, 8 and 8 years old, earn a weekly allowance for doing chores around the house. They can also earn extra money for good grades on their report cards.

We gave each of them a checkbook transaction register to keep track of their accounts in the “Bank of Mom & Dad.” (It was just easier than giving them cash each week.)

My girls often choose to use their money to buy ice cream at the pool snack shack during the summer or popcorn at the movies. (We regularly frequent Highland Square Theatre where every ticket is $5 — it makes taking a family of 5 to the movies much more affordable!)

They usually have a nice chunk of change in their accounts, and I encourage them to use their own money however they would like. Note: trips to Target can be dangerous. The hope is they’ll learn to be responsible for their own money, and they have all learned the hard way spending more than they have in their account is not going to work. If they want something which costs more than what they have in their personal coffers, they must save up for it.

When the leaves falling from trees turn into snowflakes, toy catalogs from the big box stores magically show up in our mailbox. My kids drool over the pages and circle every single item they hope to get for Hanukkah or their upcoming birthdays. The hot item this holiday season is a Nintendo Switch.

The starting price for a new Nintendo Switch is about $350 (the Nintendo Switch Lite is a bit less at around $250). The cost for all 3 of my kids to get their own console and games would easily be $1,300 or more. This is way over budget for Hanukkah and birthday presents combined.

No matter how much my kids beg, there’s no way my husband and I will acquiesce to their pleas. They were bargaining and said they would forfeit all other presents to get just the Nintendo Switch. It sounds tempting, but we know if they had only one gift to open the day would end in tears. We also have reservations about giving them each another screen to zone out on.

What to do?

My husband had the brilliant idea of letting them buy the Nintendo Switch for themselves. Genius.

This solution solves all the problems. It delays the appearance of three more screens, spending way beyond our gift budget for our kids, and gives our girls a real-life lesson on financial responsibility and working towards their goals.

Also, my girls cannot help themselves, and often spend their money on treats and trinkets at the drop of a hat. They’ll be saving up for quite a while due to their spendthrift tendencies. I am not discouraging their small indulgences because it just delays the appearance of more electronics in the house. We’re not saying they cannot have their gaming systems, but they need to take ownership of the purchase. This solution is a win for everyone!

About the author

Michelle Dickstein is a Midwest transplant from the East Coast with her husband. Michelle wears many hats as a life coach, writer, public health professional, certified lactation counselor, and certified project manager. Her most rewarding role is mother to three young daughters — two of whom are identical twins — who all get their curly hair from their father, but more than enough personality from Michelle. Her real passion is helping others by sharing her life experiences and she has made appearances on CBS 19 and Fox 8 news as a lifestyle and parenting "expert" (whatever that means). Learn more about Michelle Dickstein Life Coaching, LLC at

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