Happy Tuesday, everyone! It is hard to believe we are now in December and Christmas is less than 3 weeks away! This year has just flown by. With Christmas nearing, all of us are trying to decide the best gifts to give to loved ones. What better gift for the kids in your life than to give them a gift that is fun AND teaches them a valuable life lesson – the basics of balancing finances in their everyday life? This skill will be critical to their success later in life, so why not start them young? If you are still looking for that perfect gift for your youngster, check out some financially-educational ideas for all age groups!

Fun Books About Money Book Present

Depending on the age of the child you are buying for, a book about money may be the perfect stocking stuffer. There are SO many books for all ages about the basics of finances. If the child is young, consider something that will really draw them in with lots of pictures but that has a sound financial message. Some suggestions include The Berenstain Bears: Dollars and Sense , Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, and Making Cents. These books all teach young kids the basics of money – like the value of money, saving and budgeting, and spending wisely. If you have a teenager, consider books like The Teen’s Guide to Becoming a Millionaire, O.M.G.: Official Money Guide for Teenagers, and The Richest Kids in America: How They Earn It, How They Spend It, How You Can Too. All of these books focus on earning money, saving versus spending, and saving for the future.

Piggy BankA Bank

Sure, this seems like such a basic gift, but I’m not talking about your run of the mill everyday piggy bank. I’m talking about a bank that will help your child to learn how to allocate his or her money. Realistically, there are only 4 things that anyone can do with his or her money: save it, spend it, give it away, or invest it. How educational would it be for your child to have a bank that could help him or her to allocate money for those purposes all in one place? There are piggy banks that actually have separate compartments specifically labeled for those purposes! Check out the Money Savvy Pig. Not only does he have separate compartments which can be emptied out individually, he is also clear so your child can SEE money accumulating. If you want to take this gift one step further, you could give your child a roll or two of coins. Together, you can talk about the importance of budgeting. After developing a “budget” your child can apply what he or she learned by dropping the coins into the proper compartments.

Toy Cash RegisterA Cash Register or Toy Wallet

This one focuses on the little guys. Young children are normally fascinated by cash registers and all the buttons they contain. And let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t love shiny coins? Why not harness that fascination into a teaching tool? If your child is wide-eyed every time you take him or her to the store, give them the tools they need to create their own “store” at home. There are so many affordable childrens’ cash registers and wallet sets available. Some are incredibly realistic with working scanners and bar codes, while others are more basic and great for very young children. Just check Amazon or your local store to choose the one that’s best for your child. This toy will not only teach kids about the denominations and value of money, it also teaches them basic addition and subtraction, counting money/making change, and budgeting and spending.  By playing “store” together, you can help your child to establish strong skills that will last a lifetime.

Games that Teach About MoneyMonopoly

What better way to learn than to play a game so it doesn’t feel like learning at all?! Depending on the age of the child in your life, there is a game that will be the perfect gift. Ever heard of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace? Dave Ramsey saw a need to prevent financial difficulties before they ever start by teaching kids about money and finances while they are young and could establish good habits instead of trying to break bad habits later on. Financial Peace Junior teaches all of the key financial concepts, just at a level that kids can understand.  Monopoly is also a long-time favorite which teaches kids of all ages about the power of cash, investing, cash flows, and budgeting. For the younger folks, consider the simpler, Monopoly Junior. As the kids get older, they can graduate to the original Monopoly game. This is a gift that is fun for them….AND you! You can re-live some childhood memories around the game board over the holidays while teaching the kiddos some important financial lessons, too! Other financially educational games to consider gifting this year are LIFE, Money Bags, Pay Day, as well as countless others.

Savings Bond

Although they’ve been around for quite some time, savings bonds still make great gifts for kids. Not only are they a safe financial investment, but they also teach kids valuable lessons about money. Although the interest rates are much lower than they used to be, the savings bonds can still be used to teach kids the basics about compounding interest and saving for their future.

Graduation529 Plans

By contributing to a child’s 529 plan, you can truly give the gift of learning. Younger kids won’t understand these contribution gifts as much, but older kids who have begun to consider college will. By giving the gift of a contribution to a child’s 529 plan, you are helping him or her to pay for higher education which will help to ensure their success later in life. College tuition is expensive! On average, for 2016-2017, expenses ranged from $24,610 for in-state tuition to $49,320 for a modest private college.  Multiply that by 4 years for a bachelor’s degree, and you’re talking some serious money! Imagine if you started saving when the child was very young, and those gifts had time to GROW. With continued contributions each year for various holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) and the magical power of compounding interest, your child will have a nice little chunk of money in his or her 529 plan by the time his or her college years roll around.

Of course, there are countless other gift ideas out there, these are just a few. When it comes to financial planning, the earlier those crucial skills are learned, the better off kids are! So many people will say, “I wish I learned that lesson when I was younger”! Help the youngsters in your life to establish good habits early on. If you have questions about college savings or the best way to kick-start savings plans, Wealth Builders CPAs & Consultants can help! Our team of expert financial advisors would be happy to guide you to the best savings plan suited for your individual needs. Call us today for a free consultation!

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“What’s the Price Tag for a College Education?” College Data, www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064

Ziff, Deborah. “4 Ways to Give the Gift of College Savings.” U.S. News, 14 Dec. 2016, www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2016-12-14/4-ways-to-give-the-gift-of-college-savings.