MONEY MORAL DILEMMA: What's more important - MoneySaving or Santa?

MSE_Martin Posts: 8,273
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
Money Saving Expert
This week's Money Moral Dilemma

A family is struggling to make ends meet this Christmas, but their two children aged 6 and 8 are looking forward to Santas presents, especially because 'Santa is giving their friends a playstation/TV/expensive gifts' and as they've been 'good this year' they're expecting them too. So should they explain Santa doesn't exist and they can't afford the toy or go into debt to keep the myth alive?
Click reply to enter the money moral maze

Please remember, be polite to other MoneySavers, even if you disagree with them

Also read last week's MMD: Can kids buy anything they want?

PS. And just to confirm this is an entirely hypothetical situation. Each week in the email I will be asking those questions. And yes, the lack of detail, the phrasing, all of it is deliberate to envoke debate (nice debate too). Enjoy the money moral maze.
Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • Logovo69
    Logovo69 Posts: 474
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    When our son was younger we explained that if Santa bought him a really expensive present, it would mean that a child somewhere in the world would have to have nothing, either because the elves would have to spend too long making his, or Santa wouldn't be able to afford to buy everyone something. Wouldn't he hate it if too many other children were greedy and it meant he got nothing for Christmas that year?

    He knew he was bought gifts from the family, but then he also got left his Santa gift in his room for him to open before coming down to the family's gifts.

    A 'real' gift from Santa was always something small, and inexpensive, because there are so many children in the world who he wants to give to, and he has so many gifts to fit on his sleigh. We'd then pick something small from his 'Dear Santa' letter for him and leave his present with a special letter from Santa thanking him for not being greedy and saying he was a good boy!

    The children who got given the big expensive toys from 'Santa' had actually been given them by their parents, who just liked to pretend they were all from Santa, but only the small special one was really from Santa!

    I know how difficult it can be, but we have to cut our cloth accordingly. If we splash out on gifts for our children that we can't really afford, it's no fun for anyone in the New Year when we are faced with bills we struggle or can't pay.

    Once our mortgage and the bills are paid, I have less than £50 per week to cover all our food, toiletries, petrol, clothing and any other expenses. I know many families living on less.

    it's natural that we want to see our children happy and give them things which we think will do so, but hundreds of pounds spent on credit, on toys or electrical goods, many of which will be broken by the New Year, aren't the real route to happiness for our children.

    Over indulging them so that they don't truely appreciate what they have may be creating problems for them when they are older. When they become adults, if they can't afford luxuries they want, and are offered credit, are they really going to stop themselves from getting into debt if they can have what they want immediately?

    We have explained to our son that we just can't afford to pay out hundreds of pounds on toys. If we borrow the money we still have to pay it back and give extra money as well. Not giving him doesn't mean that we don't love him, we tell him that every day. We ask him to pick some things he would like up to a certain value and then pick which one we can get. We also explain that when we can give him little treats, might only be 30p for a chocolate bar, we will try.

    This has been so very difficult to do, but our son doesn't take anything for granted and always appreciates what he is given, and he is genuinely happy with his Christmas present(s).

    I know this is a difficult time for many families and I truely hope that people find solutions to their problems and have a wonderful Christmas.

    Loads of love,

    The times they are a-changin' - Bob Dylan
  • iwanttosave_2
    iwanttosave_2 Posts: 34,292
    Combo Breaker First Post
    My little ones have only ever recived a small gift from santa (because the elves are very busy making toys for all the good little boys and girls) and the rest are addressed from us, so we wouldnt really have a problem on that front.

    We are have a few money problems this year, and xmas is going to be very tight, but rather than get into debt, we are selling a few things on amazon/ebay ect and buying prezzies from that. Plus as any good money saver should know, it to utalise what they can get. For example, DS needs a new bike, and I have managed to find a £20 voucher, so that means we are saving money there, and also buying things on sale. Not only money saving, but money streching.

    When they are youg, they are not as materialistic as older children and are happy with what they get (well it is with mine anyway.)
    Work like you don't need money,
    Love like you've never been hurt,
    And dance like no one's watching
    Save the cheerleader, save the world!
  • meher
    meher Posts: 15,911
    Combo Breaker First Post
    A 6 and 8 year old should be age enough to realize that Santa is only a myth. Equally there's no such poverty in this country where a parent cannot afford a humble gift for their little children - if there's a will, then there surely has to be a way.

    It's beyond me to understand why people tell lies to little children anyway - if they can understand about Santa, then they should also be able to understand that he's not real but an imaginary figure who wears red costume and appears from the chimeny to give gifts on Christmas eve.

    But every child should know of Santa for it's the true Christmas spirit of giving and for absolutely nothing in return.
  • Interesting Meher, I decided I would tell my children the truth and never lie to them. This involved tell my DD1 that Dad and I got the pressies and hid them in the cupboard under the stairs. I was pilloried for this by the other Mums but stuck to my guns.

    DD1 went to school and near Xmas when she was 5 came home and said that I was mistaken there was a person called Father Christmas and he delivered the presents in a sleigh etc. I asked her why she thought this and she told me Miss Writer her teacher had told her and I was not a teacher so I probably didn't know. She went on to believe in Santa for the next 5 years in spite of my protestations. Of course DS and DD2 joined ranks with her. With DD3 I did the whole Santa thing and I think this year at 9 she finally knows the truth!

    I have spent fortunes on my kids in every year up to this one, This year I have allocated £50 each. I am not going over this.

    If I was faced with the dilema I would tell the children that Santa was only bringing small gifts as money is tight and that they are loved and cherished and that they are good not to be greedy. Then I would make a big fuss of them on Christmas day by spending time with them. That way I do not think that at 6 and 8 they would realise they had got less. However the return to school could be tricky when notes on pressies are compared.

    Nobody is perfect - not even me.
  • Hi

    Why don't they explain to the children that the elves make the toys and Santa delivers but Mum and Dad still have to pay Santa for the presents - and this year the Santa fund is a bit low.

    Surely, in the long run, what matters is the time you spend with your kids - they will remember that when they grow up, not who got the highest score on Sonic the plumber or whatever they are playing nowadays!

    Think of that advert for Werthers sweets on tv - with the lad telling his dad that his mate has all the latest gadgets etc, but the dad won't be at the school sports day because he is a virtual dad.

  • Can someone explain to me the benefits of telling your kids that Santa exists?
  • Hi

    I don't post much but thought I'd throw my tuppence in.

    When I was growing up christmas was incredibly magical and that has stuck in my head. I have wonderful memories of checking to see if Father Christmas had eaten the mince pie I left out or if I could find any hoof prints outside.

    I would never ever deny my daughters (3 months and almost 5) those memories.

    Things are tight this year but we're happy to live on pasta for a few weeks in order to buy them a few gifts. My oldest knows that Father Christmas doesnt bring much for babies as they only really like milk lol I hunt for bargains and use those discount book shops and will wrap 30p colouring books.

    I've also instilled in her that some children are not so lucky and she's happy to go through her older toys to pick out some for the childrens charity shop in the village. Last year she almost made me cry as she picked her favourite Eeyore toy and insisted he go to a sick child!

    I think it's all about getting the balance right. If the children are 8 and 6 then this is probably the last year they'll believe in the magic. I would find a way to buy some inexpensive items and tell them one of the above reasons why.
  • whosforachat
    The benefit of my 2 children believeing about santa is the surprise on there face christmas morning when they see what santa has left them is something money cant buy. we dont go overboard with our children but we buy them what we can so for a child to believe in santa might not have benefits for everyones family but for ours it does and it makes christmas that extra bit special for our kids and it was something i believed in when i was a child so why not make christmas a magical time for kids? you dont have to spend a fortune on presents at xmas its just the thought of santa having been in the house makes there day
  • meher
    meher Posts: 15,911
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Can someone explain to me the benefits of telling your kids that Santa exists?
    I suppose it's for the completion of spirit of Christmas, little children really get into their creative and imaginative mood thinking of Father Chistmas on his way with whatever they've wished for.

    There're little children across the world who've grown upto be far more sucessful people in life without having the goodfortune to wish for gimme gimme gimme let alone the luxury of dreaming of Father Christmas bringing them gifts. It's noble to explain these to chidren at an early age specially considering the Life of Jesus Christ and what Christmas is all about.
  • Why give them a double whammy by saying 'You won't get the presents you want and, oh yes, Santa, who matters to you much more than to me, doesn't exist'?

    Other replies had excellent ideas about Santa having to spread the costs or parents having to pay Santa. Let them down gently one of those ways, which still teaches them a little about economy. A few months from now, when Santa's not dominating every young child's thoughts, is when to break the bad news that this person they and their friends hero-worship doesn't exist.

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