Student Perspective

MISSION CHRISTMAS: Saving For University

by Benjamin Skye | December 9, 2010 | Student Perspective 0 Comments

Christmas is popular all over the world: here is picture a giant tree set up in a mall.

Christmas is popular all over the world: here is picture a giant tree set up in a mall.

It’s amazing how popular Christmas is around the world. Even when I was growing up in Malaysia, most shopping malls and restaurants would decorate for Christmas. I thought I had seen it all in Malaysia – the fake snow (usually cotton), the Christmas trees, the lights, the ornaments, the countless individuals with fake long white beards and pillows for a tummy dressing up as Santa Claus… But I have to say, being in America has shown me how American really do take Christmas to a whole new level. No kidding, Americans are SERIOUS about their Christmas.

Christmas gifts under the tree definitely gets everyone excited. This year, Americans are expected to spend a whopping $450 billion on Christmas! Crazy!

Christmas gifts under the tree definitely gets everyone excited. This year, Americans are expected to spend a whopping $450 billion on Christmas! Crazy!

Did you know? Each year, Americans, as a nation, spend a total of close to $450 Billion dollars over the Christmas season (that’s about $800 US Dollars per person)! That is huge amount of money! In case you were wondering how many zeros there are: a billion consists of nine zeros.

Part of the reason for this exuberant amount is the strong emphasis on giving during the Christmas season. Families and individuals all get into the spirit of the season, giving generously to each other in the form of Christmas gifts. Presents under the tree add to the excitement of the season as families and friends gather from all around and visit each other.

During this season, most children have, perhaps, the most fun – since they are usually the ones at the receiving end without having to worry about giving. In my conversations with my American friends, I have come to find that many of their fondest memories as children happened during the Christmas season when they were given wonderful gifts by their parents. Christmas was always a season of joy!

As I think about all this, I think this Christmas would be a great season for families who have children planning to study abroad to start something different. Maybe this year, instead of the latest gadget or toy, what a child really needs is a gift that will benefit him or her for life – perhaps that gift, is none other than the gift of education.

Starting a savings account with your child specifically for the goal of helping him or her save up for university is probably one of the best things you could ever do for your child. There are multiple benefits to this act of giving:

TThe piggy bank is the most common symbol associated with saving money. There's no need to get one of these but it's still a great idea to start saving and planning ahead.

The piggy bank is the most common symbol associated with saving money. There's no need to get one of these but it's still a great idea to start saving and planning ahead.

First, you are helping your child initiate something that could very well determine their future success. A university education is becoming more and more important in our world today – and unfortunately, it also seems to be getting more and more expensive. Thus, it is so crucial for families to start planning early. Although scholarships and loans could be potentially helpful when the time comes, a savings account that has been built up over the years could provide not just a substantial amount of money, but an awareness of the child’s part that going to university is a huge financial investment that they need to take seriously.

Secondly, saving money with your child could help them gain an understanding of financial responsibility. No matter how old your child is, it is important to begin teaching them the value of saving money, as well as the need to be financially shrewd and accountable. The idea of delayed gratification is a beautiful virtue that should be instilled in every child from a young age. Sometimes, what children need to realize is that they don’t need the latest cell phone, or digital camera, or gaming console – these things are all temporal. Saving for university needs to be at the forefront of these children’s minds as it teaches them the value of planning ahead – they don’t remain children forever and part of growing up involves learning how to be independent: physically and financially.

Christmas is a time of giving, especially between family members.

Christmas is a time of giving, especially between family members. Children look forward to the many gifts they will receive from their parents each Christmas.

Finally, this act should remind parents to not underestimate how much influence he or she has over his or her children. By giving your child a sum of money this Christmas to help them start a university fund, you are showing them that you care about their future and that you are dedicated to helping them succeed in the world. Contrary to the widespread belief that teenagers trust their friends more than their parents, psychological studies conducted on teenagers have shown that many list their parents as the greatest influence on their lives. The key here then, is that these children who claim parents as most influential over their lives understand and believe that their parents care sincerely for them. A good relationship between parent and child provides a foundation for a strong trust relationship to develop – which in turns allows parents to have a strong influence over their children.

This Christmas is a perfect opportunity for you to show your child you care – not only about their immediate happiness but about the security of their future. Starting a university fund with your child could very well be the best Christmas gift you could ever give. Remember: what you are giving is not just your hard-earned money – but an example of what it means to be generous and financially responsible.

Merry Christmas!

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