It may seem simple, but sharing financial lessons in fun ways with your family and friends can help lead to a lifetime of better money habits by those you care for the most. With nearly everyone feeling some impact from the COVID-19 global pandemic, the upcoming 2020 holiday season is a perfect time to introduce children and adults alike to gifts that can help them become more financially savvy.
The sooner you begin teaching children about money, the better you will position them to handle financial matters later in life. Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert who blogs at andreaworoch.com, uses a piggy bank and other means to teach her four-year-old about the importance of saving. Because most educational systems don’t teach finance in elementary school, learning to be smart with money needs to start at home.
Here are some creative ideas for financially focused gifts for a variety of ages and interests:
One easy way to talk about money at home with younger children is with a piggy bank. It’s a great visual reminder of the importance of saving some of what you earn or receive. “I’m teaching my daughter about saving her money,” Woroch says. “We talk about what she could buy and how the more she saves the more she could buy with the money later.” If you decide to give a bank as a gift, adding some coins or cash would make it even more memorable. Or, look for a bank that has different compartments for saving, spending, investing and giving like this one.
Stocks and Fractions
Introducing middle-school age children to the buying and selling of shares – or fractions of shares – is a good way to help them overcome any fears they may have of the stock market, Woroch says. “It helps people become more comfortable with the concept of buying and selling shares.” To get your feet wet without dropping a ton of cash, consider using a company with a low minimum. Stockpile is a brokerage firm that allows you to buy fractional shares of stocks for as little as $5. They even offer gift cards so you can give an e-gift or a physical gift card redeemable for stock. Kids and teens can track their stocks 24/7 and place trades that you approve. They can also share a wish list of favorite stocks.
The board game Monopoly
“Monopoly really helps teach budget lessons,” Woroch says. “There’s the concept of buying property and making enough to not go broke.” Playing the game with your children or grandchildren may get everyone in a frame of mind to think more about spending and saving, she says: “The more strategic decisions you make in the game, the better you do and that can also apply to your life.” Besides the standard issue board game, there are dozens of Monopoly themed sets including those for collegiate sports teams and even Mickey Mouse.
Books on personal finance
From conquering debt to starting a new business, there are a number of excellent books on the market to help friends and family gain new insight into their financial literacy or even discover what it takes to step out on their own as a budding entrepreneur. Woroch says make sure and match the book to the age and interest level of the person receiving it. She recommends the Broke Millennial series for the 20-something in your life. Or, for middle-schoolers, my own Not Your Parents’ Money Book. You can peruse Amazon or your favorite bookseller for the latest personal finance titles.
Online courses to learn new skills
There’s never been a better time to expand your horizons while staying indoors. Check out Harvard’s online course catalog with more than 100 free online offerings, or Woroch suggests trying Udemy or Coursera to find a class for your favorite someone. Course offerings include everything from launching an online business to learning new computer programs or a foreign language to classes on budgeting and managing money.
Gift cards that give back
As we teach our families to be good stewards of their finances, it’s also important to share with others who are less fortunate. One way to do that is by giving a gift card that gives back to a number of charitable organizations such as Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity. Visit GiftCards.com and select the Giving Good line of multi-store gift cards that feature a curated set of popular stores and restaurants. When you purchase a Giving Good Card, GiftCards.com donates 3% of the card’s value to the charity partner on the card.
With reporting by Casandra Andrews