When it comes to gifts, we all know it’s the thought that counts — which is why there are certain self-described gift-giving mentors who don’t encourage financial gifts. Of course, those same folks have probably been on the receiving end of monetary gifts and were ecstatic.
As with all things in life, there’s a right way to give a financial gift, and a lot of that has to do with the recipient and their age. Here are some things to consider for the next time you reach into your wallet for a gift:
Gift a 529 Account
Parents of newborns have a lot on their minds. They might not be thinking about that kid’s college education just yet at least, until they master the art of the diaper change! As a supportive friend or family member, you can help get them started on that looming tuition bill by providing them with information about a 529 college savings plan. Once they’ve set up that account, you can then be the first contributor.
All you need is the account number to make a transfer. This is actually one of those financial gifts you can keep coming back to every year. By the time the little one is ready for college, they could have a very decent nest egg.
Give Cash to Young Ones
Cash in an envelope is such a wonderful surprise. That’s true at any age, but it works especially well for younger recipients. It’s a great way to start teaching kids the value of money. They’ll be faced with an immediate choice: spend or save. If they have their eye on a special gizmo, then saving will be the only way to go. That cash also helps with math skills, as it assigns numeric values they can see.
Give Checks to Teens
Just as giving cash to young ones teaches them about the value of money, giving a check to a teen helps them learn about banking. This is something they’re definitely going to need to “practice.” Writing a check forces them to “slow their roll” a bit, since they can’t immediately go out and spend it. Instead, that check needs to be deposited into their own account. And if they don’t have one yet, your check could become their very first deposit.
You can apply this same principle to a gift of a savings bond or certificate of deposit (CD). It compels the owner to wait for the funds to mature. They might not know it at the time, but it’s the perfect savings lesson.
Download a Cash Gift
“I love shopping on Amazon.” If you know someone that utters those words on a regular basis, you have the perfect built-in gift: Amazon gift cards (affiliate link). Actually, most e-commerce sites have a gift card element that lets you “buy” a code that you can give as a gift.
This type of gift works best with those savvy online shoppers who know their way around an electronic shopping cart.
Send Foreign Currency
Getting a gift of foreign currency works great if you know that person is headed for an overseas trip. You don’t want to give them anything else they’ll need to pack. Instead, putting some “coin of the realm” in their hands can help get them through those first hours in a foreign land. It will certainly come in handy, and they’ll be thinking of you while they travel abroad.
Try Gift Cards
Gift cards has become a huge “go-to” gift industry. You’ll find gift card kiosks in just about every grocery store. They’re wonderful for last-minute gift ideas. Not only can you target specific stores with your cards, but you can also consider restaurants and movie theaters. Technically, you could gift an entire date night. That would totally be appreciated. If all else fails, those gift cards could be converted into cash to be spent elsewhere.
The best part of giving a financial gift is that you put the power of that present into the hand of the recipient. They get to choose what to spend it on, and when. On many levels, that’s the greatest gift of all.
Photo Credit: Lindsay Dee Bunny