Financial lessons in First Communion
Parents and children can learn prudent spending on this special day
First Holy Communion is an important time for many families. And while the religious ceremony is, the church and schools will stress, the most important aspect, that won't stop parents spending hundreds of euro on their child's day.
It won't stop others from borrowing to do it either.
From clothes to catering to castles of the bouncy kind, it's an expensive event which often leaves budgets reeling.
This week I'm looking at how to dress your kids within reason and use the day as an opportunity to teach them about money - which is probably the part they're most looking forward to!
Lots of chain stores sell absolutely beautiful outfits (see panel). Remember that for the girls particularly, the dress will only be worn for a few hours, so splashing the cash is such a waste. The focus should be on simplicity for eight-year-olds so it might be necessary to 'redirect' some of their own choices away from the overly flouncy.
You can borrow accessories or use hand-me-downs, and don't forget that charity shops like Vincent's and Enable Ireland also sell almost-new dresses for a fraction of the cost. They will have been dry-cleaned and spotless, and every single child looks beautiful on this day without much effort.
A lot of money is spent needlessly on additional things for the child's big day. No eight-year-old needs to get their hair in a formal up-do at the hairdressers. Using a veil or floral hair-band with freshly washed hair is perfect.
Children don't need umbrellas, bags, gloves or other paraphernalia which will never be used again. Is it necessary to buy new outfits for the whole family? If you have other events, it's fine, but otherwise there's no need.
While you'll want to celebrate the day with family and friends, there's no need to get into huge numbers. Your child's friends are mostly likely doing the same thing and are in their own houses, and during the day, family members can drop in and out. This means a buffet-style option is practical. Your local supermarket or delicatessen can provide a selection of cold cuts, breads and salads and don't forget to accept every offer to bring something. It's too much work to provide a sit-down dinner.
Mammon is never far from God and this may be the first time your child gets a significant amount of money from relatives and friends. The average size gift is €40 according to research and many children end up with €300 or more. Having a conversation beforehand about it is important, as well as making sure any money received is immediately put somewhere safely. Kids have a habit of ripping open cards and leaving them around. It's a great opportunity to teach some money lessons too:
- consider how much the child should spend, save and donate from their haul;
- it's a great time to think about opening a bank or post office account. Banks reserve their best deposit rates for children. AIB offers 2pc on savings, EBS 1.75pc and many give free gifts to encourage new savers. You can explain how banks work and encourage them to save for longer term things which they can supplement with pocket money;
- ask someone to gift them a money box. They can make a good start by saving in a simple way;
- when opening a child's account, only some banks allow it to be in the child's name.
- You will need the usual ID to do so and, unfortunately, Dirt tax is payable on all interest - even by kids.