Updated on 07.31.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Educational Investment Edition

Trent Hamm

Several different people have asked me what gifts I’m getting for my kids this Christmas, mostly as a source for ideas for their own children (I think).

Here’s the truth, though. For the most part, I don’t think it matters too much.

The one thing that really matters to your kids is time. Time spent doing things with them – playing games, playing with toys, exploring, or countless other things. Time spent talking to them (not just telling them what to do and so on). Time spent actually focusing on and answering their questions.

Stuff doesn’t matter. Time is always the best gift you can give your kids. Keep that in mind this holiday season.

Making the Most of Gift Cards I tend to look for situations where I can buy gift cards at a discount, particularly if I’m sure the recipient will like the card. Of course, this year is the first year in a long while where I don’t believe I’m giving anyone a gift card. (@ free money finance)

Is Frugality a Necessary Evil I don’t really think of frugality as an evil at all – I usually enjoy it. Still, this is a quite interesting article. (@ get rich slowly)

Eight Tips to Know If You’re Being Boring This is a very useful “gut check” for social situations. If you can be aware that you’re being a bore, you can take steps to fix it. (@ the happiness project)

The Joy of Buying a New Car: 9 Car Buying Tips I pretty much entirely agree with this list. These are the exact things I use when I shop for a car. (@ wise bread)

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Great tips! Although I am not giving out gift cards this year, I did take advantage of some promotions in order to purchase these cards for stores I wanted to shop at.

    For instance, my local grocery store, Kroger had a promotion where I could have got $100 worth of BestBuy GC’s for $90. This 10% discount came in handy and allowed me to stock up on cards. Then when I came around to shop for various electronics at the store, I just made sure BestBuy price matched with competitors or used during any big sales they were already having to have further reduced costs. Every penny saved matters!

  2. Adrienne says:

    One way we’re adding time to our gifts to the kids this year is making it exciting to find them. Using riddles and treasure hunts turns the whole gift into an event (not just a 10 second unwrapping).

  3. Well said, Trent. When I reminisce about my own childhood holidays, I remember the time spent with friends and family much more than any gifts I received.

  4. stella says:

    I would say it’s not just “time” it’s about your real presence. Some people spend “time” with their children, but they are not really present and engaged and involved. And kids are really good at sensing who is actually “with” them and actively present. And who is genuinely interested in them (See: How kids interact with some aunts and uncles while shunning others.)

    Attention is one of the most loving gifts we can give anyone, regardless of age.

    FYI: Depending on age, and how they were raised, some kids are still going to want something tangible besides family time. And let’s be honest. Some families are so dysfunctional that the less time “together” the better. That’s a painful truth that needs to be dealt with.

    On Thanksgiving, we had the kids interview everyone (including the other kids) for a special “Thanks-giving” tree (Kids wrote down answers on paper leaves that they then put on trees that were drawn on paper) where everyone stated what they were thankful for. Then everyone passed around their trees.

    For the holidays, we have a special ritual with each of the kids (one makes hot chocolate, another bakes cookies, one does the tree, etc.)

    These times together are part of the family “lore” and rituals they look forward too.

    But the reality is, people still want some “stuff.” whether it’s a family vacation to someplace they want to go or a new TV for the family since the old one died.

    There’s nothing wrong with stuff (in moderation and not if it gets you into debt) but it’s no replacement/substitute for love, affection, attention and real connection that comes from daily reinforcement of all of those things.

    For the adults in our lives this year, we are asking for more time together just hanging out. We all have so little free time but we do want to stay in touch. You can’t buy what is really teh best to give: One’s self.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *