7 Holiday Gifts to Teach Kids About Money

7 Holiday Gifts That Teach Kids About Money (image 2)

Talking about money is hard—even for adults. And talking about money with your kids can be even harder. But, of course, it is important for children to start learning the importance of spending less than they earn, sticking to a budget, and saving for a rainy day.

The holidays might seem like an odd time to start this conversation—after all, December generally feels like the month reserved for spending far more on gifts than most of us can really afford—but also, doesn’t that also make it the perfect time?

Here are seven gifts you can give your child this holiday season to start teaching them the basics of personal finance.


1)  Neale S. Godfrey’s Ultimate Kids Money Book by Neale S. Godfrey

If you want to give your kids a solid, straightforward understanding of money and its use, then this is the book for you. Using colorful illustrations and charts alongside fantastic, kid-friendly text, author Neale S. Godfrey (@NealeGodfrey) provides a broad overview of how money works and how it can be made to work for you. Godfrey knows what she’s talking about, too. As a former bank president, she understands the ins and outs of personal finance far better than most. If you’re wondering how to best teach your kids about financial responsibility, you could also check Godfrey’s book, Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children.

2)   Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst

You might recall young Alexander from the time he had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad, day. There’s actually a whole series of picture books from author Judith Viorst that chronicles this cranky young fellow and his struggles with daily life. In this book, Alexander is given a dollar by his parents, which, of course, means that he is now incredibly wealthy. (The book was written in 1987, so, y’know, inflation.) However, to Alexander’s disappointment, his dollar seems to be rapidly disappearing… probably because he’s spending it! The Alexander books are modern classics of children’s literature, and this one is no exception.

3)   CashCrunch 101

There are a lot of kids out there who learn best by doing. So if you want to teach your children about managing their money, why not use a game so they can learn these lessons themselves? CashCrunch 101 is a free computer game from CashCrunch Games that lets young adults (recommended for ages 13 and up) have fun while also learning serious lessons about the importance of saving more, and spending less. Through fun characters like Debbie Debt, Sammy Savings, and Mo Money (our favorite), CashCrunch will teach your kids more about personal finance in ten minutes than a lecture from you could teach them in ten hours. There’s also CashCrunch Junior, a physical board game for kids age 7 to 12!

Read our interview with Paul Vasey, creator of CashCrunch!

4)   Monopoly

Because there’s no better way to learn the value of wise investing that letting your uncle drive you to bankruptcy through his utter dominance of Park Ave. In fact, that’s kind of the reason the game was invented. The reason it’s called “Monopoly” is because the game inevitably ends the same way: with one player gaining control of the board and forcing all the other players to go broke. Playing Monopoly with your kids can be a great way to teach them long-term, strategic financial planning. Plus, one of you inevitably gets to play as the little top hat, and that’s just the best. There are also a ton of different versions of Monopoly, so if you think your kid might be more interested in, say, a Star Wars version of the game, Hasbro’s got you covered.

5)   A CD

You know, like “License to Ill” or “Yeezus”

Actually, this is a different kind of CD. It’s a “Certificate of Deposit.” These work kind of like a savings account, only you can’t withdraw the money for a pre-determined amount of time and they pay higher interest rates (to you!). Sure, a child’s face probably isn’t going to light up when they get a piece of paper informing them that money’s been placed in a bank account for them that they can’t touch for, say, three or five or even 10 years. But this gift will still teach them about the importance of investing money and earning interest. Kids can watch the amount of money in their CD grow over time. They might not thank you now, but one day they will.

(You could also just get them “License to Ill.” We won’t tell.)

6)   Make a donation in their name

Again, this is probably not a gift that’s going to make a kid explode with joyous gratitude. And that’s okay. Giving money to worthy causes—whether that’s feeding the homeless, supporting the arts, or funding cancer research—isn’t just about doing our civic duty. It’s about being deliberate with your money and what you’re spending it on. Someone who doesn’t know where their money is going—who’s just spending every paycheck willy nilly—is probably not someone who has anything left at the end of the month to donate. Use this gift to teach kids about both financial and civic responsibility. You won’t regret it.

7)   A piggy bank

Look, not every gift has to reinvent the wheel. Every kid should know about the importance of saving money, and pigs are adorable and awesome.

You’re welcome.

So while everyone you know is splurging on gifts for themselves and others that—let’s be honest—are all going to be forgotten by February, why not give the children in your life the gift of financial responsibility? After all, that’s a gift that will last them a lifetime. Happy Holidays!

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