When I was a kid, getting a five dollar bill tucked inside a birthday card from Grandma was like hitting the lotto. But when I try to give my little nieces and nephews $20 gift cards to Barnes & Noble (my favorite gift for the kiddies in the family!) they seem to think it’s chump change.

All of their grumbling has me wondering at what age cash is an appropriate present for kids. What is the right amount? How do you teach kids about finances through little lessons like this? You tell us!

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Category: You Tell Us
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6 Responses

  1. Cary says:

    As the mother of 8 kids, aunt to more than that and Godmother to another passel of kids I consider myself an expert on gift giving.

    About gifts of money: I firmly disagree with money or gift cards for children under 11. Gifts are from our heart, and while choosing one for themselves is delightful for the kid, it is NOT delightful for the folks . Really little ones DO find money or gift cards disappointing. At 12, things change. It’s difficult to get ANY idea WHAT the kid is “into” either from the kid or the parents. The best we can hope for is the name of a favorite webstore or regular store and go for that. However, it’s IMPERATIVE that it be accompanied by a sincere, loving , GENUINE gift note telling the kid why you love them, why you chose what you did and expressing your hope for a birthday/holiday that is heavenly. My kids used to ignore these : but I saved them , and now my kids treasure these cards. Which, at the end of the day, EVERYONE should have momogramed/personalized notecards from TINYPRINTS to send along with EVERY gift !

  2. Katie says:

    Thanks, Cary! We agree…Tiny Prints cards make the perfect accessory for any gift! Thanks for the shout out : )

  3. Jori says:

    Alll of my husbands 2nd cousins are between 5-16 and they all ask for money or gc. Just feel that with availability of credit cards and gc that kids don’t understand the value of a dollar.

  4. Elle says:

    When I was little, I received specific toys and items. After I hit the tween years, relatives seemed to rely more and more on gift certificates because it was too difficult to keep up on changing trends and personal preferences, especially in a large family. By that age, I preferred gift certificates anyway, no matter the amount.

    In my extended family, as kids get older, it’s sometimes the case that the gift receiver has a big-ticket item they’re already saving up for, so it’s better to give cash or gift certificates towards that item, which in itself promotes fiscal responsibility. I think this is the only situation I’d give money as a gift to a child younger than 12

  5. Jennifer Short says:

    When I was little, from about six on, I always wanted money. I put it away for college. (Yes, *I* started saving on my own in first grade.) I even would have prefered my relatives giving me the money they spent on a card and just writing “Happy Birthday” on a piece of paper. I was determined to save enough for college! A friend of mine who has a five year old is already teaching him to save for college! I wish more people did that! (Last year I gave him a game and wrapped it in plain paper and made a face out of coins and a dollar bill. Quarters were the eyes, a nickle was the nose, a dollar bill was the smile. Even the $2 in coins is going in his college fund! (And his parents have plenty to send him, unlike mine.) One time my grandparents gave me a bunch of quarters so I could play video games, and that went in my college savings.

    WVU class of 1998 🙂

  6. Rox says:

    My kids have always loved the feeling of having their own money or “credit cards” (gift cards) and plan carefully how to spend each dollar. (They have to; I don’t take them to the store to just “see” but, rather, to add to their Playmobil collection, or to pick up a new Lego kit — that involves foresight and planning.) Especially because we don’t live near family, they don’t know what my kids like or want. I maintain Amazon “wish lists” for the kids, but it seems to mean more to them and to the gift-giver when, for example, great-grandma sends a check “for an outfit and a toy” — and I send her a picture of the kid in the outfit with the toy. It depends on the situation, but I’d much rather my extended family do that (I return in kind, too) than buy my five year-old son something with Elmo on it (the horror!) and toys (like Star Wars stuff — which he’s totally not into but might seem age-appropriate) that he won’t enjoy.

    My kids started allowance and planned spending at age 4, right around the age when they started getting an occasional dollar or two from grandma in the mail. Both the money gifts and the allowance were great tools to teach savings and spending — and definitely not splurging. (That’ll be in the teen years, I imagine!)

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