Every gift you give a child is a chance to inspire saving, investing, and entrepreneurship. These are some money gift ideas.
Schools don’t provide much or any personal finance education. 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 teach them about personal finance. And all of these gifts are just a visit to Amazon away.
Even really young children can understand the concept of saving money. These gifts will make it fun for them.
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 it away for safe keeping so that when they need it, they will have it. Which will carry over for everything from saving for college to saving for retirement.
You can’t buy an allowance on Amazon! Yes you can! This is so cool and I just discovered it while researching this article. An Amazon Allowance Gift Card. This program lets you add money to an Amazon gift card one time only, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
The money can then be used to buy anything that Amazon sells. This option can give parents more control over an allowance. You can set up an Amazon account for an older child (they must be at least 13) and let them buy what they want but if your kids are younger, you can set it up under your own account.
This lets you sit together and discuss how much they have, what they want to buy, why, if they have enough, and if not, how they can get enough; either by saving more and longer or doing additional things to earn more.
If you have a kid in college and don’t trust them with a credit card, this is a great way to make sure they can buy essentials like books or towels and sheets without having to worry they’ll get themselves into debt.
Realistic looking play money is a great teaching tool, especially since many kids never see their parents actually spend cash but just 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. If we want to buy more things, we have to save our money.
Realistic play money also lets kids learn what the denominations are and just because a nickel is bigger than a dime, doesn’t mean the nickel is worth more (I used to think this).
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 eats in their savings. Will they still be able to buy granny a gift?
Bunny Money teaches kids simple math, what a budget is, and the importance of an emergency fund.
The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole. Ages 4-8. Dad brings home a baby turkey to raise for Christmas dinner. “Think of the money we’ll save!” But a lot can go wrong when you’re raising an animal in a 19th Century New York City tenement building!
The Money We’ll Save teaches kids that sometimes we don’t have enough money for all the things we want and have to make tough choices.
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 object of the game is to be the first to earn $20.
This game teaches kids that we earn money through working (chores) and helps them make decisions like when to save and when to spend.
Payday. Ages 8 and up. Players move around the board which is a 31 day calendar. They get paid on the 31st of the month so must manage bills and unexpected expenses until then. The object is to have the largest net worth by the end of the game.
Payday teaches kids how to budget for expenses and save for emergencies.
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.
No, you can’t buy them on Amazon but you can make it a tie in. If your kid really loves Frozen, you can buy them the movie and include with it 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 age of the child.
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 to 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, along with 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 interest 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.
Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz. Ages 8-12. 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: Earn! Save! Invest! James McKenna, Jeannine Galista, and Matt Fontaine. 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.
Daytrader. Ages 10 and up. Daytrader is a board game Players get jobs, lose jobs, buy and sell stocks, deal with volatile markets. The object of the game is to be the first to save $3 million, sell your stock and get to the bank before a volatile market wipes out your savings.
The game teaches kids the basic investing concept of buy low and sell high.
Cashflow 101 Ages 14 and up. 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. On the fast track, too much money is the obstacle. Players have to find investments before losing money to things like divorce and taxes.
The game teaches investing basics, explains the difference between an asset and a liability, and basic accounting.
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If you want your kid to be the next tycoon, you can start them young.
Lemonade Stand Kit
This may have been the way some of you earned your first dollar. It may seem old fashioned but a lemonade stand teaches lots of entrepreneurial lessons; raising or saving start up money, inventory, quality control, marketing and promotion.
All those concepts might be hard for kids to understand when you’re trying to explain them but they’re much easier to understand when they’re seen in action.
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. There are also exercises that help kids design their own 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 age 7-10 who want to start and run a business. The boxx comes with a workbook that walks kids through the steps to start a business. Once the workbook is completed, it acts as a business plan. The type of business isn’t constrained by the contents of the box, kids can start any kind of business they want.
There are three levels; Prodigy for ages 7-10, Apprentice for ages 11-14, and CEO for ages 15 and up.
Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins and G. Brian Karas. Ages 2-7. 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, how to count money, and the basics of 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 earn the money?
Amelia Bedelia is a whole series of books. I loved these when I was a kid. The books teaches simple math lessons.
Sims 2 Open For Business. 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 is a simulation which can make things more real to kids than just playing a board game. The game is suitable for teenagers.
Zoo Tycoon. Zoo Tycoon lets kids build their own zoo from the ground up. They choose their animals, the exhibits, 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.
The game is suitable for kids ten and up.
More Than A Gift
Kids already have plenty of China made plastic junk cluttering up the house. 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.