This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.
We all know the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive.” But how do we teach this lesson to our children? I wrote about this subject a few years ago, and now that my kids are into the “tweenage” years, it’s becoming more important that ever. At 9 and 12, my girls are old enough to appreciate both giving and receiving. We do our best to teach them to be generous and to think of others. But even so, it’s easy to get caught up in the toy-filled frenzy of the holiday season.
Giving Gifts That Matter
Throughout the years, we’ve tried to incorporate non-material gifts & experiences into our holiday traditions. These are some of the things we’ve tried (with varying degrees of success):
1. Teaching Our Kids Firsthand That It’s Better to Give Than Receive. Let’s be real – it’s much easier for kids to be generous when they’re spending your money, right? My kids love to give gifts to their family and friends…as long as they don’t have to spend their own money. So one thing we’ve tried is to make our kids responsible for their own gift giving. They love making cards, drawing pictures, writing poems, and making bracelets. Amelia, our resident craft expert, is especially handy at creating things like origami boxes filled with hug coupons. (Give that kid a stapler and some scotch tape, and she’ll conquer the world.) The idea here is to encourage them to spend time and effort on gifts, instead of spending money.
2. Participating in Clothing, Toy, or Food Drives. Thinking along those same lines, we make a habit of encouraging our kids to give to those in need. Vic and I donate clothing, toys, and food on a regular basis, not just during the holidays, so we’re hopefully teaching our daughters by example – and then we take it a step further by enlisting their help. They help us sort through our canned foods and shop for non-perishable foods to donate. Sophia is great about donating her old clothes and toys once she outgrows them. And every December we buy holiday gifts for children in need. I especially like to give to children that are close in age to my own kids – I think this is great for developing empathy.
3. Making a Gift Embargo for One Night. In my family, we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. (That’s 8 extra nights of presents, but who’s counting?) To be honest, we’ve been talking about a gift embargo years, but we haven’t actually followed through with it – yet. But I love the idea of picking one night of Hanukkah to forgo gifts altogether. Instead, we’d celebrate by simply being together as a family. We’d light the menorah, play dreidel, maybe even make latkes for dinner. And then instead of opening a gift, each of us would give a gift to a child (or family) who otherwise wouldn’t have a gift to open. It would be wonderful lesson in giving vs. receiving – plus it’d be nice to for them to see that the world won’t come to a screeching halt if they get one less toy during the holiday season.
4. Give Gifts That Involve Spending Time Together as a Family. I hate to admit it, but 90% of the toys my kids get during the holidays end up broken, buried in a toy box, and/or forgotten by January 1st. That’s why I love giving non-tangible, memory-creating gifts instead. Think movie tickets, passes for ice skating & mini golf, or a surprise day trip for the whole family. An envelope might not be as exciting to open on Christmas morning, but the memories we create last longer than any doll or a noisy electronic toy.
5. Giving Gift That are Investment in Their Future. Okay, so I know savings bonds and college savings accounts don’t exactly have that whiz-bang factor on Christmas morning. Trust me – I got a ton of savings bonds for my Bat Mitzvah (back in the Dark Ages). I also got some really pretty jewelry. And to a 12 year old, the jewelry was fabulous, and the bonds were meh.
Every single piece of jewelry was broken or lost within a year. But the savings bonds? I used them 10 years later to buy my first car. Talk about a lasting impact.
And it’s the same with a college savings plan. As I’ve mentioned, my parents purchased a Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan for me when I was about 14 years old. Was it big and flashy? Nope. But is it a gift that I appreciated in my future? You bet. That was nearly 30 years ago, and this gift still impacts me today. That’s why I gave the same gift to my own children.
At a time when so much in the world is uncertain, saving for college through Florida Prepaid College Plans is guaranteed and secure. What better gift can you give your child than financial security?
Florida Prepaid College Plans: Which Plan to Choose?
There is a Florida Prepaid College Plan for any budget. No one can tell you which plan is right for your family, but I can tell you which was right for mine: the 2+2 Florida College Plan. Here’s what you get with (and why we like) the 2 + 2 Plan:
- This plan is designed to be used first at a Florida College (formerly Community Colleges) and then at a State University
- The 2 + 2 Florida Plan covers tuition, the tuition differential fee, and other specified fees for 60 lower division credit hours at a Florida College AND 60 credit hours at a State University (120 total credit hours).
- A child can receive a degree from one of Florida’s prestigious state universities for less money than a typical four-year university degree.
- By starting your child off at one of the state’s 28 Florida colleges, you’ll save money on lower-level courses before transferring to a State University to finish off their degree.
- Students with this plan are guaranteed admission to a state university once they’ve earned their associate’s degree at a Florida college. With admission becoming increasingly competitive, this can be a huge benefit.
Our favorite thing about this plan is that it gives our kids – and our family – lots of options.
Win the Gift of College
You can help your child avoid college loan debt by starting to save now. The value of going to college debt-free should be rewarded – so Florida Prepaid will reward one lucky winner by paying off your Florida Prepaid College Plan – no, that’s not a typo! But act fast…Florida Prepaid is going to select ONE winner from all the Plans purchased between Oct. 15, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2017 and pay that Plan off in full. And don’t forget to use promo code RUNSIT1718 to save $25 on your application fee.