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The Financial Power of Giving Thanks

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In my September column, I wrote about the importance of teaching your children financial literacy.

Mind you, keeping kids financially grounded is not for the faint of heart. By allowing children firsthand experience in earning, saving, and spending their own money, they are more likely to have a savvy sensibility about managing their expenses as adults. But kids are kids, and let’s admit it—spending money is fun.

So there’s no better day than Thanksgiving to talk about the bounty of gifts you and your family has, and how kids can not only save for their financial futures—but how they can share their wealth with others.

That is a tradition that I’ve had with my children since they were little. In fact, Thanksgiving is more than a day for giving thanks—it marks the start of the season for expressing gratitude and sharing with others.

Caring Is Sharing

While many of us are focused on building wealth for our financial future, this is the perfect time of year to share with those who struggle to make ends meet. Here are a few of my family’s traditions. I hope you are inspired to give back in your own special way.

  • Thanksgiving baskets. Part of my family’s holiday tradition is to prepare items for Thanksgiving baskets for families of a sister parish in Washington, DC, whose congregants are less fortunate. Our mission is to provide money for food so that they can enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner in their homes.
  • Blessing Baskets. We also prepare Blessing Baskets filled with baby food, formula, and diapers to help the members of our sister parish take care of their babies.
  • Choose a charity. Other families that I know help their children understand the meaning of sharing by having their kids select a charity or special cause to support. Showing that you care about helping others sets a powerful example.
  • Develop a family “giving” statement. Similar to a family mission statement, a “giving statement” enables you and your kids to determine what percentage (of your income, or their allowance) you will give each month or year to a nonprofit organization, school, or other charitable cause.
  • Turn the tables on “Black Friday.” Instead of rushing out to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving, use your time, treasures, and talents to make gift bags for the giving trees.

Timing Is Everything

When you commit to instilling strong financial values in your children and encouraging their positive saving and spending habits, the benefits are immeasurable.

Remind them that their self-worth is more important than their net worth. Managing money is a lifelong skill, so teaching your kids good habits early is a sound investment in their future. There’s no time like Thanksgiving to start the conversation.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

This post originally appeared in Inkandescent Magazine.

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