Let’s be honest. Your child doesn’t need yet another toy. Sure, they’re fun, but after a couple of weeks, toys are forgotten or broken (or both.) Plus, what long-term benefit does a toy offer? None.
Giving a financial gift to kids can help build good financial habits. This list of financial gift ideas for children of all ages includes everything from piggy banks to 529 contributions.
Many useful financial gifts can keep on giving while providing children with a solid financial foundation for the future.
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Christmas Gift Ideas for Little Kids
Young children get a thrill out of opening presents, and you can provide this thrill while giving something practical.
There are a number of piggy banks out there designed to help children begin learning money management. These banks often have divisions to see that some money is for saving, some for spending, and some for other purposes. You might even find one personalized to the child’s interest, like a favorite superhero or animal.
Include a roll of coins with the gift, and the child can immediately begin learning valuable financial planning lessons. Check out the Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank.
Math and Counting Games
Previously voted the Educational Toy of the Year by the Toy Industry Association, the LeapFrog LeapPad has several games that can help your child learn math, the foundation for a sound financial education.
This toy is by one of my favorite companies, LeapFrog. I like the traditional LeapFrog games and movies with little Tad, so I’d go for Math Circus.
Learn About Money Placemat
If your kids eat like mine, they certainly need a placemat to catch all the crumbs. I love placemats with something on them to enrich your child’s dining experience.
Kids can get pretty bored at the kitchen table, so having something for them to check out can save your sanity when trying to talk to your spouse. I loved the United States map placemat I had as a kid.
I would have loved this Learn About Money Placemat. This mat can help teach your children about the different coins and even provides a little math lesson by showing, for instance, how many pennies make up a nickel.
Toy Cash Register
Another excellent money lesson comes from watching what happens at the cash register. Will you use cash or plastic? Debit or credit?
Bring the cash register home from the store and let your child pretend to shop. Or let your child run the register while you shop. This Teaching Cash Register from Learning Resources looks perfect.
The Old School Abacus
An abacus is a great way for kids to visualize counting and perform simple math. The abacus, as you know, is the oldest form of calculator.
While it’s not a traditional Chinese or Japanese abacus, it will help you count to 10 billion if you use each row as a multiple of ten. For instance, the first row of beads counts as one each, and the second row count as ten each.
My daughter loves playing with my wallet. She pulls all the cards out, looks at them, and perfectly places them back in the wallet.
It’s quite impressive. She needs her own wallet to practice keeping track of her most valuable information and money. I found this Cash N’ Carry Wallet, also from Learning Resources.
Christmas Gift Ideas for Big Kids
While piggy banks are a great first savings tool for younger kids, older kids can learn more targeted savings strategies. Around age seven is a great time to start teaching your child how to save for his goals, and using mason jars that represent each goal can encourage positive savings habits.
Purchase several mason jars and write a goal on each jar. You may want to start with three jars and label them “spend,” “save,” and “give.”
If your child has a specific goal they’re trying to achieve, label the jar accordingly. Then put $5-$10 in each jar to get them started. Seeing their money grow will motivate them to continue to save. It is a great gift for helping your child build strong financial habits.
Educational Money Apps
Several useful apps exist to teach your kids about money. As a bonus, many of them are FREE! Here are several of the best educational money apps for kids:
Savings Spree ($5.99 on iTunes) is set up like a game show hosted by the Money Savvy Pig, where each round teaches your child about a financial concept such as investing or short-term and long-term savings.
Players learn how saving, spending, donating, and investing money all affect their bottom line. Making wise choices means the player is awarded money, and the user with the largest nest egg at the end wins.
This game is geared to children aged five and up (there is some reading in the gameplay), but little ones can easily play with Mom and Dad’s help.
Star Banks Adventure (free on iTunes) is a game created by T. Rowe Price to teach children aged 8-14 six key lessons: setting a financial goal, saving and spending wisely, asset allocation, inflation, and diversification. Gameplay is similar to Candy Crush, and your kids will actively enjoy learning how to be good with money.
The Game of Life app is a colorful journey through the major decisions of life. You decide how to budget, save, and make big purchases like a college education or a house.
Having an opportunity to practice making these choices in an app can give your kids an excellent framework for learning how to make great choices when they face them in real life.
This game is geared towards children seven and up.
This set of two scratch-off maps (USA and world) will be a fun visual present for any kid who has caught the travel bug.
Kids will love the gold foil finish on the maps and can scratch off each state or country they’ve visited. The more sections they can scratch off, the more colorful their world and U.S. maps will become!
The U.S. map even features state capitals and flags. What a neat way to get kids excited about geography and travel! Plus, a love for travel can strongly motivate children to manage money well. This set of two maps is just $19.97. Check it out here.
Since many people don’t carry cash anymore, how do you teach kids to save up for something they want? Goalsetter is a digital savings and gifting tool that helps kids save up for their goals.
They can set big goals like saving for college tuition. They can also set simpler goals, like saving up for a new bike or a video game system.
Parents can set up the auto-save feature and help their kids save towards the goals they’ve set. GoalCards are available, which are digital gift cards that family and friends can give as presents.
Kids can cash out their Goalsetter account any time after reaching their savings goals.
My grandmother gave me a silver dollar as a gift once. That silver dollar, minted in the 1800s, is worth about $22 today if melted down, according to coinflation.com.
Coins can be fun gifts for children to receive. Consider giving gold coins or silver coins. These are small, shiny gifts that light up the little one’s eyes and are likely to appreciate over time.
At the very least, they are unlikely to decline in value. Make sure you get these coins from a reputable source.
Another great coin option is to give your child a state series coin collection map so they can start a collection of the statehood quarters.
It will not only be a great geography lesson for your child, but it will also encourage her to look at the coins that pass through her life, rather than just spending them–an excellent habit to get into in childhood.
My sister and I used to play Monopoly for hours. If your children are old enough (8+), they undoubtedly enjoy this classic game, and you can relive your childhood and join them for a game.
There are now tons of varieties of Monopoly to choose from:
- Electronic Banking
- Cheaters Edition
- Junior Party (5+)
You can even pick themed versions like the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings editions!
The Allowance Game
For children aged 5-11, this board game lets players earn money when they get to “home” and collect their allowance, do chores, start their own business, or earn interest on their savings.
You can spend money in this game at the mall, at garage sales, or simply by losing cash out of your pockets. The first player to save up $20 wins.
Though the options in this game are a little dated (kids are more likely to spend their money online than at the mall these days), the game offers realistic problems (who hasn’t misplaced cash from a pocket?).
The play money helps reinforce money knowledge, and the game is an excellent introduction to the various ways kids can earn money other than just asking at the bank of Mom and Dad.
You can get The Allowance Game for $19.99, and have a great time playing it as a family.
Money Maze Puzzle Box
Every child loves receiving money or gift cards. Why not add an interactive component into the mix to make it more exciting?
With the Money Maze Puzzle Box, the recipient must utilize logic and spatial awareness to solve the maze and get the money! This puzzle money holder encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Here’s where you can find this fun money gift.
Fun Books About Money Management
One of the more notable yet simple money management books for kids is the short story Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst.
One of my favorite book series for children is the Berenstain Bears. I loved all of these books as a child, and I enjoy reading them to my kids, although some of them can be pretty involved (and my daughter does not let me skip pages or paraphrase).
Anyway, the bears have a book about money, called The Trouble with Money. The moral of the story is delayed gratification and saving money for a rainy day.
One last classic children’s book on money is A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams. In this story, after a fire destroys Rosa’s home, she, her grandmother, and her mother start saving up money to buy a big, comfortable chair that the mother can rest in after a long day at work. This lovely story of perseverance, family love, and frugality will be a hit with everyone in your family.
A great book for older kids would be The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of. Help get the teens in your life off on a solid financial path.
Christmas Gift Ideas for Teens
Stock in a Company of Their Choice
If your child is a bit older, maybe it’s time to go beyond the saving and spending lessons and teach them about investing.
Give them $25-$50 as a gift with the caveat that they must use it to purchase stock in a company. Show them how to sign up with a company like Stockpile, to buy stock using a gift card you provide.
Then they can pick a stock and make the trade. You could even make the gift more educational by challenging them to track their stock’s progress over a year.
Check-in with them quarterly to help them see how their stock is doing, and offer to match their earnings next Christmas to invest in another stock.
No one is suggesting your kid go on to be a single stock day trader, but this lesson will help your child begin to understand the stock market. Then they’ll go on to grasp the more important lessons of continual, passive, diversified investing.
College Savings Accounts
Consider opening a 529 plan for a child on your list.
In many cases, you can do this with as little as $25. Then, for every gift-giving occasion, you can add a little more money to the 529 plan.
It will encourage the child to make their own contributions–and maybe even spur the child’s parents into action.
Most people start saving for college too late, leaving kids and parents to rely on financial aid later. Often the issue for waiting is simply because 529 accounts are super confusing.
Here’s what you need to know:
You can contribute after-tax dollars to a 529 plan of your choice. You can withdraw contributions and any investment earnings at any time for qualifying higher education expenses used by the beneficiary of the plan.
There are two types of 529 college savings plans: prepaid and savings. Prepaid plans have more tax benefits and college discounts to in-state schools, allowing you to save for future college expenses at today’s prices.
They also have more restrictions and can get complicated if used for out-of-state schools. You may lose out on some of those funds. This can vary depending on the specific plan.
529 Savings Plans offer more flexibility and can usually be used at any accredited college or university nationwide for qualifying education expenses.
There’s more to them than this summary. There are tax rules and contribution limits you’ll want to research before signing up for an account.
A great way to start a 529 college saving plan is through Backer. They help families make the most of their college savings.
Backer can help open a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan. Because they’re an SEC-registered investment adviser, they have a legal duty to put your interests first.
They don’t take commissions. So, you’re getting the best advice to help grow your college savings in the best possible way.
If you’re thinking about opening a 529 college savings account, using Backer may be a smart choice. They’ll help you maximize college savings for your child. There’s even a crowdfunding aspect, where family and friends can also contribute to the savings plan.
This one is a little trickier. The child in question will need to have earned income. If you are thinking of a gift for a teenager with an after-school job, a Roth IRA might be the way to go.
You can contribute the amount of the child’s earned income–up to the Roth IRA contribution limits–to a retirement account that can benefit the child for years. Plus, withdrawals are tax-free for the recipient once they reach a certain age.
On top of that, certain conditions (such as education) allow for penalty-free withdrawals for the recipient. This is another gift that teaches the value of compound interest while it keeps on giving.
Are you looking to give more than just plastic toys to your kids for Christmas this year? Check out these 24 fantastic financial gifts for kids. #giftideasClick to tweet
My grandmother gave me a savings bond one year for Christmas when I was younger. It came in quite handy just after we were married, both in school, out of work, and in need of groceries.
Savings bonds may not offer huge returns, but they do provide a gift that appreciates over time, and it provides a powerful example. You can even print out a gift certificate from the Treasury’s website so that the recipient can have something tangible.
Bonus: In most cases, the earnings from savings bonds are exempt from federal taxes if the child uses the money to pay for college.
The Scholarship System Course
If you have an older child, you are probably already thinking about how you will pay for college.
With the rising cost of higher education, you need resources and tools to aid with education expenses. It’s also important for the child to actively participate in the process.
The Scholarship System Course was designed to help your high-school student find grants and scholarships to pay for their college education.
It is a great gift to help your student become proactive with paying for their college education.
Premium Seats USA
Premium Seasts USA isn’t really a money-related gift, but it’s a great alternative to stuff! Tons of parents prefer experience-based gifts for their kids rather than toys that break quickly.
Try Premium Seats USA for the special kids in your life, purchasing either specific tickets or gift cards. They offer tickets to a huge selection of sporting events, musical concerts, and theatrical performances.
Plenty of kid-oriented options are available, and often at great prices! Whether you’re giving to a kid who’s a superfan of a particular team or one who’d get a kick out of a live performance of “The Lion King,” you’re sure to give them an experience they’ll remember for years.
If you’re not buying for your child, be sure to get parental approval for the show and the date. Or keep it extra simple and choose a gift card! Here’s more info on Premium Seats USA.
Use the coupon code PTMONEY for 10% off your next order!
Donate in Your Child’s Name
‘Tis the season for…giving! Giving to charity teaches your children empathy. By giving to charity, they are lending a hand to those who are less fortunate than them. Giving teaches them to be grateful for what they already have.
You can offer some guidance to help the child select a reputable charity that they care about. Then, give them $25-$50 to donate to the charity of their choice. You can either write a check or deliver it directly to the organization.
Help Them Start a Business
If you have an entrepreneur in the family, give your child the tools to start a business. There are plenty of businesses your child could start at a young age. A home bakery? A lawn maintenance business? Teaching piano lessons to younger children?
Brainstorm ways you can help your child begin building their own business. For example, you could give them start-up funds to create a blog or purchase initial supplies. There also are some great entrepreneurship books for kids and teens!
The Omaze platform uses a nifty new fundraising strategy to help over 300 nonprofit organizations and give regular people a chance at a unique experience.
With Omaze, you can contribute just $10 for a chance at winning a fantastic celebrity meeting, a new car, or even a vacation. Part of the money goes towards nonprofit funding, so you know your entry does some good in the world.
The concept is different from typical charity auctions in that everyone has a shot at winning.
Search for causes you think your child would care about, or search for experiences they’d love. Experiences available might be a magical Harry Potter experience or a dinner with Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) before attending the premiere of the next Star Wars movie!
Gift a child as many entries as you like. There’s no guarantee of a win, but this could be a thoughtful gift for an older child who might appreciate the charitable donation. And who knows?
They just might win and have you to thank for an unforgettable experience! Check out current Omaze campaigns.
The Bottom Line
Don’t default into thinking you HAVE to give children just toys for Christmas. You can offer something much more valuable: An excellent financial start and solid financial advice.
What are some of the best money-related gifts you have given or received over the years?