How To Tell Your Children Santa Is Broke

by Hank Coleman

What to do if Santa is broke this yearWhat do you tell your children when times are tough? Is Santa affected by the recession too? One of the worst mistakes that we can make is to pretend that nothing is wrong and continue operating in the same manner that we always have during the holidays when our family is struggling financially.

It becomes hard to maintain the status quo when times are tough, and it is especially tough around Christmas and the holidays. And, trying to continue the same way is a horrible mistake.

We get used the good times with tons of presents under the tree, showering friends with presents, and decorating your home like an Oswald. But, what should you do when times are tough this holiday season? How do you tell your children that Santa is broke this year.

Be Honest With Them

I’m not suggesting that you come out and tell your children that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. But, I am suggesting that you manage expectations as early as possible before things get out of hand. Your children probably know more than you would like them to about what is going on in our economy and how it is affecting your family. It is very hard to get much pass them. So, you may be able to manage their expectations this holiday season by telling them that even Santa has been affected by the recession. Maybe he is not giving as many presents to everyone this year.

Limit Gift Giving To A Certain Amount

My wife instituted a brilliant system in our house where Santa Claus only brings our children three gifts each Christmas because that was the same number of gifts that the Wise Men brought Jesus. Not only does it reinforce lessons and values that are important to our family, but is also limits our costs during the holidays. I know that a lot of parents also require children to get rid of or donate to charity presents on a one for one basis for new presents that they will receive during the holidays.

You should also look carefully at how many of your friends you purchase gifts for. Maybe this year is the year that you simply send cards instead of presents. Most likely, your friends are going through the same challenges you are as well and will more than understand.

Another way to afford presents for your friends and family is to use your credit card rewards points to get restaurant gift cards and other gift cards. My wife and I charge everything on our American Express card in order to earn reward points to use during the holidays for gift cards to give to our friends.

Consider Earning Extra Income

If you absolutely must try and keep your holiday celebrations the same as in previous years, you may want to consider getting a part time job this holiday season. Many local retailers are looking for seasonal employees to fill in during the mad rush of the season. Another added bonus is that you may also find work at a store you will ultimately shop at that offers an employee discount.

Now you can do your Christmas gift shopping at a discount. I’m not talking about starting a second career, but earning a little extra income during the holiday season can be the little extra help that you need to continue enjoying the number of gifts and lifestyle that you are used to.

It is not easy to continue celebrating Christmas and the holidays like you have in the past when there are so many people currently unemployed and struggling. How do you tell your children that Santa is broke this year? It is a fine line that you have to walk in order to manage their expectations. But, one of the worst things that you can do is continue like nothing is different.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]

Hank Coleman has written 545 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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