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Inflation is making times tough this Christmas. Here are ways to navigate it | Personal Finance – Daily Advertiser

Christmas is a time of joy and excitement. The Christmas tree reminds children that Santa will soon arrive and there will be gifts. However, if that is all children understand about Christmas, then their future will not be very bright. 

Children need to understand that the country goes through economic ups and downs, which will affect their future — and what’s under the tree. In these times of inflation, when every dollar is stretched to the max, it is important to remind your family that Christmas is not about getting things — it is about remembering relationship bonds. 

But we all want our children to have a magical Christmas that we can afford. And this Christmas, if we provide information about the economics of the times, we can keep the magic while tempering it with reality. 

Even starting at an early age, children can be introduced to the economics of Christmas. The magic of the season does not need to be diminished or destroyed. Explaining that there is a cost at Christmas time does not have to sound gloomy.

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For example, when discussing what they want for Christmas, you can explain that Santa has elves and reindeer to feed and raw materials to get so that the gifts can be made.  And right now, those raw materials may not be readily available. Showing them pictures of docked ships at the various ports will emphasize that the store shelves (and Santa’s workshop) may be empty — the merchandise is still on a ship or in a packing crate.  People are trying to bring in the cargo, but it cannot be done quickly. 

In addition, parents need to reimburse Santa so that he can do it all again next year. With this in mind, have the kids determine what they really want based on that fact. Have them select one specific item that is most important. Provided it does not break the budget, do what you can to make sure that that item is under the tree. 

For stocking stuffers or general gift giving, visit a discount or dollar store for small, inexpensive items that may be fun but won’t cost much. It is important to remember that most toys become obsolete or outgrown very quickly. With this method of utilizing economic principle in explaining the reason for only a few presents, the excitement of Christmas is maintained but tempered with the knowledge of cause and effect. And this year Christmas should be focused on family, family gatherings, and family activities — not on things.

Another way that inflation at this time of year can be explained is at the grocery store.  Many shelves are empty, preferred products may not be available, and substitutions must be made. It is important to emphasize that current situations may be temporary and that next year may be better. 

When discussing the economics of the times, try not to sound gloomy or depressed. The situation is not as favorable as we’d like, but there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. Keep this in mind as you explain the current financial climate that we are all coping with. And emphasize that you are coping. Children need to feel secure that their parents are in control and that everything will work out eventually. 

Keeping children in the dark or trying to protect them from the realities of the economy is not helpful. Giving them information can prevent their worrying about a situation that they cannot control. We all face good times and tough times over the years. This is one of the tough times, but we will get through it. 

Mary Fox Luquette, MBA, CLU, ChFC is a finance instructor in the BI Moody III College of Business at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.