Is Christmas debt bad parenting?
I thought financial planner Jeff Harring raised an interesting point in this story I did on setting and living with a Christmas budget. If you have suffered a job loss or other major income-changing event, this is a teachable moment, he argues. Instead of going deeply into debt just to make sure the kids have a fabulous Christmas, this would be the time to teach them about responsibility and living within your means. Or as he said, "When life is good, we spend a lot. But when life is bad, we're going to keep on spending? What kind of lesson is that? It's putting your head in the sand."
I don't think you should worry the kids about money, but I do think it's not a bad idea to explain that when times are tough we aren't going to put a Wii on a credit card.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne