Families adjust to low-key Christmas

Most are not and it is voluntary. But, for children it is a different story.

The stores are packed with shoppers but they are not buying like they used to. This holiday season fewer items are being purchased and those items do not cost as much as in years past.

That means kids will be getting a scaled-down holiday season.

Tiffany Violich knows about that. Her home is decorated to perfection and her kids, Tory and Tyler, are having a great time. And, it is all happening with less money.

"We are trying to cut back and watch our money this year," she says.

Like many families, they are putting credit cards aside and paying with cash this holiday season.

"They always say, especially during a time like this, a recession or a tough economic time, that cash is king. Well right now cash is more than king. Cash is sexy," says Janet Bodnar.

Bodnar, Deputy Editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, says this is an opportunity for parents to scale back and teach their children the value of a buck.

"You might say 'If I had to pick, or if you had to choose four or five top things on this list, what would it be?'" she offers.

She calls it "stealth budgeting" and says kids will go along with any family tradition, even a new one, as long as it is explained.

"If there is something you know they are not going to get, let them know that upfront so they don't have unreasonable expectations," she suggests.

Tiffany agrees and says it is an ongoing process for the whole family.

When asked what the toughest thing about cutting back is Violich replied, "I have children. And, you don't want them to feel like they are missing out at all. Really it is just getting use to a different level of comfortable for us."

Many people are in the same position. If you are feeling alone, rest assured you are not.

If the sales figures are any guide, most American families are cutting back, which means most American kids will eventually know what is going on, or at least are getting clued in.

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