While Christmas and the holiday season is a great time for us to give some fun and maybe frivolous gifts, I personally like to at least attempt to give financially related gifts from time to time. But I'm not talking bars of gold or jewel encrusted silverware here. I'm talking about more reasonably priced gift items that still have a positive financial impact upon the gift receiver without busting my holiday gift budget in the process.
I'm of the belief that to build an interest in money and good financial sense, it takes more than just throwing money at children. Sure, as a child I loved getting cash for birthdays or holidays, but I was also savvy enough at a young age to know that to buy the things I really wanted or maximize my spending power later on, it was good to save much of that money. It was also important to my interest in money that my family helped me cultivate an understanding of money through doing things like teaching me about rare coins, and even giving me some such coins as gifts on occasion, which acted to heighten my interest in money and coin collecting.
Now that our first child is five years old, I'm attempting to do the same thing with him. For Christmas, we bought both him and our newborn baby one-ounce silver coins. At $36 a piece (the price of silver was $32.60 the day we bought) these coins weren't as costly as buying the kids an ounce of gold, and our son was thrilled by such a "neat" gift. I hope to make such items regular gifts as the kids age, not only giving them something that can better secure their financial future over time (while not breaking our own budget in the process), but that can increase their interest in money and saving as well.
My wife's family was really good about giving savings bonds to her and her brothers when they were younger. Whether for birthdays or holidays, they often got a small government savings bond as gifts. And while some people scoff at such bonds as low interest earning investments, I've been a long-time fan of such investment vehicles due to their guaranteed returns and safety. And with potential inflation looming, I-series (inflation-based) government savings bonds can provide some protection against inflation, and over the long-term, provide some decent returns. Not only this, but I like these bonds because should we decide to use them for certain educational purposes for our children, the interest they've earned over time may be exempt from federal taxes, which is a nice bonus.
A Cool Piggy Bank
A neat piggy bank might sound a rather simplistic money gift, but I've seen its amazing effects on getting kids interested in money. When I was a child, I used to have several cool piggy banks. One was a contraption into which I would enter coins and it would sort them automatically, and another was a big barrel with a combination lock on one end that I have now passed along to our son. In addition, our son also has a British telephone-shaped bank, a regular piggy bank, and an electronic Hummer vehicle bank that honks, and has its headlights come on and tires roll when coins are inserted. While to our son, they might seem more like toys, I hope that subconsciously these affordable gift items are building a continued interest in money and saving.
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