Schools don’t provide much or any personal finance education, especially at a young age. So it’s up to us to teach children about money. If there is a child in your life, every opportunity to buy them a gift is an opportunity to inspire saving, investing, and entrepreneurship. From saving to investing, some money gift ideas will make learning about finance fun.
A Piggy Bank
One of the simplest methods to teach kids about saving is a piggy bank; something kids have had for generations. Mine was a clear glass Snoopy. Even toddlers can put the coins they find around the house or outside into a piggy bank and understand that they are putting them away for safekeeping so that when they need them, they will have them, which will carry over everything from saving for college to saving for retirement.
The award-winning Moon Jar is an engaging learning tool that grows with your child and encourages fiscal responsibility by simplifying financial concepts.
Realistic-looking play money is a great teaching tool, especially since many kids never see their parents spend cash but swipe a debit or credit card. When kids handle play money, you can show them that we can’t buy infinite things.
When the physical money is gone, we don’t have anything else to spend. So if we want to buy more things, we must save our money.
Realistic play money also lets kids learn what the denominations are, and just because a nickel is more significant than a dime doesn’t mean the nickel is worth more (I used to think this).
With this pretend cash register, children will learn early math skills like addition and subtraction and have fun playing with their calculator cash register! This cash register comes with everything kids need to start playing and learning right out of the box!
Lemonade Stand Kit
If you want your kid to be the next tycoon, you can start them young! This may have been the way some of you earned your first dollar. It may seem old-fashioned, but a lemonade stand teaches many entrepreneurial lessons; raising or saving start-up money, inventory, quality control, marketing, and promotion.
When trying to explain all those concepts might be challenging for kids to understand, but they’re much easier to understand when seen in action.
This kit by Melissa and Doug also converts into a grocery store! Child development experts around the world recognize the value of imaginative play. It promotes self-confidence, social and cognitive skills, resilience, and more. These kills are crucial building blocks for success and personal fulfillment in adulthood.
Dot and Dash
Do you want your kids to be a developer? Dot and Dash can be the first step. Dot and Dash are robots that use games to teach kids about technology and computer programming. Some exercises help kids design their games. They are for kids five and up.
The Biz in a Boxx
The Biz in a Boxx is a step-by-step guide for kids aged 7-10 who want to start and run a business. The box comes with a workbook that walks kids through starting a business. Once the workbook is completed, it acts as a business plan. The box’s contents don’t constrain the type of business; kids can start any business they want.
There are three levels; Prodigy for ages 7-10, Apprentice for ages 11-14, and CEO for ages 15 and up.
Many books can teach kids about saving money and encourage reading simultaneously. This is one of the main components of the four-gift rule.
Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells – Ages 3-7
Bunny brother and sister Ruby and Max save $100 to buy their grandmother a birthday gift. But a series of unexpected events eat into their savings. Will they still be able to purchase granny a gift?
Bunny Money teaches kids simple math, a budget, and the importance of an emergency fund.
This book explains things like savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a language kids will understand. The book contains quizzes, too, which can be a good opportunity for further discussion if there is something your child isn’t quite grasping.
How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 by James McKenna – Ages 10-14.
This book teaches kids personal finance basics like saving, for short, medium, and long term goals, earning money and investing. There are lots of illustrations to explain the concepts in the book and keep kids engaged.
The story is about two siblings who start a lemonade stand… in the winter. The kids experiment with different marketing methods and, in the end, make money selling lemonade, even in winter.
The book teaches simple math, counting money, and starting a business.
Amelia Bedilia Means Business by Herman Parish – Ages 6-10
Amelia wants a new bike; her parents agree to share the cost, so Amelia needs to earn some money! Amelia works a series of jobs, all of which end in disaster. Can she make money?
Amelia Bedelia is a whole series of books. I loved these when I was a kid. The books teach simple math lessons.
Some of the oldest board games around were geared towards money, like, of course, Monopoly. Along with Monopoly Junior, a few games will get little ones learning.
The Allowance Game – Ages 5-11
Players move around the board doing chores and earning an allowance that they can spend on things they want. The game’s object is to be the first to earn $20.
This game teaches kids that we earn money through working (chores) and helps them decide when to save and when to spend.
Payday – Ages 8+
Players move around the board, which is a 31-day calendar. They get paid on the 31st of the month, so they must manage bills and unexpected expenses until then. The object is to have the most significant net worth by the end of the game.
Payday teaches kids how to budget for expenses and save for emergencies.
Cashflow 101 – Ages 14+
This game was designed by Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki. Players choose a career, and there are two tracks; the rat race and the fast track. On the rat race track, lack of money is the obstacle. Quickly, too much money is the obstacle. Players have to find investments before losing money to divorce and taxes.
The game teaches investing basics, explains the difference between an asset and a liability, and basic accounting.
Sims 2 Open For Business – 12+
Kids can design their own business, a clothes shop, restaurant, florist, or almost any type of business they want. They will hire and fire employees, strive for a high customer satisfaction rating, and do all the mundane stuff that comes with owning a business, like buying inventory and stocking shelves.
This simulation can make things more fundamental to kids than just playing a board game.
Zoo Tycoon – 10+
Zoo Tycoon lets kids build their zoo from the ground up. They choose their animals, the exhibits, and even the toys the animals play with. Kids also design the other aspects of the zoo, adding bathrooms and concession stands. The game comes with tons of information on the animals; there are over 100 to choose from, so it’s not just for budding entrepreneurs but animal lovers too.
Investing in Stock Shares
The earlier kids start investing (or have money invested for them), the more time it has to grow. And there is no substitute for time if you want your money to make more money.
You can’t buy them on Amazon, but you can make it a tie-in. If your kid loves Frozen, you can buy them the movie and include a certificate for one (or more) shares of Disney stock.
You can explain what a stock is, how owning stock will make you money over time, buy and hold, what makes a company attractive or not to investors, etc., depending on the child’s age.
A 529 Plan
This is another tie-in idea. A 529 Plan is a college savings account. It’s never too early to start saving for college, and it’s never too early to get kids excited about college, even if it’s years away.
If someone in the family is a college sports fan, they can give your child a gift related to the team, a jersey, a hat, a pennant, and a contribution to the plan.
And if you’re intimidated about setting one up, the folks at CollegeBacker will do it for free.
A dream board is a great way to teach kids how investing and compounding interests can help them reach their goals. Do they want to go to Disney Land? Do they want to buy a big farm and rescue animals? You can explain that by investing money early and often, they can achieve their goals faster than they can just by earning money in a job.
More Than A Gift
Buy them a gift that will teach them something. Money lessons learned early can shape a kid’s whole life. Most of the gifts on this list are not just an opportunity to teach your kids about money but to spend time as a family reading, building, and playing.