Holiday spending series: Turn holiday flyers into a financial lesson

I’ve talked to my kids about wants and needs and they understand the difference between the two. However, I felt that now they needed me to take this lesson to a new level.

Holidays are almost here and my mailbox is bombarded with flyers and catalogues. My kids eagerly wait as I go through the mail to pass them all the flyers for toy stores. They love going through them, circling toys they want Santa to bring. Most of the time they circle almost all the toys in the flyer, even the ones for babies! When I asked them why they are circling toys for babies, they explained that all toys are fun and that the age group doesn’t matter. Wow! Maybe I am exaggerating, but these are beginning stages of consumerism. My kids are four and six and are already being sucked in by smart advertisers. I realized it was time for some financial literacy lessons.

I’ve talked to my kids about wants and needs and they understand the difference between the two. However, I felt that now they needed me to take this lesson to a new level. We agreed that all the toys are wants, so I decided to teach them that we all have to prioritize our wants. I explained to them that wants are fun, but very few people in the world can afford all their wants. Therefore everyone has to choose which one out of many is the most important to us. I asked them to cut out pictures of all the toys they want Santa to bring and put them order from the most important to the least important. Then I helped them to write a letter to Santa, and they glued all the toys in priority order. The six-year-old also practised spelling under each toy (got some schoolwork done with this exercise too!).  

Lastly, I explained to them how flyers work. I told them that the store which sells toys, or sometimes the company that makes the toys, creates the flyers/catalogues so that people like us can learn about the products that the company is selling. I explained that the flyers look very pretty in order to encourage us to purchase the products that they are selling. This way they impact our emotions and motivate us to spend our money. When we go out to the store and buy one of the toys that we saw in the flyer, the store will make money.  I could tell that my six-year-old understood this. However, these concepts were way over the head of my four-year-old. I know she may be too young to understand what I was explaining but, with time, she will absorb these concepts as long as I use teachable moments like this. 

About the Author

Maya Kuc Corbic, CPA, CA

Dinarii Financial Education Academy
Maya is a passionate advocate of financial literacy and is the founder of Dinarii Financial Education Academy. The academy’s mission is to teach children and youth financial literacy skills in a fun and engaging way, and give tools to parents to continue teaching personal finance at home. Dinarii offers student and parent workshops that qualify for the Parents Reaching Out Grant.


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