1. Buy savings bonds
Savings bonds are excellent gifts for kids, especially younger ones who won’t be tempted to cash them in any time soon.
Bonds are essentially like loans you give the U.S. government. They can be redeemed any time after 12 months, but cashing them in too soon can lose you a significant chunk of interest or even cost you a penalty.
Series EE or I savings bonds will earn interest for up to 30 years. You can buy them, in your child’s name, online at TreasuryDirect.gov.
2. Get the kids a share of stock or investment account
Stock from a big-name company really is a gift that can keep on giving. And there’s no better way to teach kids about investing than by making them shareholders themselves.
Are your kids obsessed with Frozen? Buy them stock in Disney. Or maybe you can’t drag them off the computer at bedtime. You can buy them stock in Roblox, or maybe Nintendo.
And if you want to encourage a life-long passion for investing, setting up an account with an kid-friendly investing service is an easy way to invest your spare change for your kids.
All of your purchases on a linked card will be rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into an investment account that you can manage until your kids are old enough to take over.
3. Give children their own debit cards
Another great way to teach your kids about managing money is to set them up with their own debit card.
Greenlight offers a safe and secure debit card parents can control through an app. You can set up the card to automate allowance payments, establish parent-paid interest rates or assign chores to help your kids manage some early income.
4. Open a savings account
Piggy banks are fun, but your kids’ savings aren’t doing anything for them sitting on the shelf. A savings account can not only help you teach them how banking works, it puts the funds to work too.
What you should look for is an online savings account that has a higher interest rate. Then, together, you can come up with some savings goals — like for a new video game console, bike or art supplies.
While your kids are still young, you’ll probably have to sign on as a co-owner of the account. But once they’re mature enough to take control, you can transfer it over to them to manage.
5. Start a college savings fund
It may take a few years (or decades), but your children will eventually thank you for setting up a college savings fund for them.
Opening and contributing to a 529 college savings plan will help set them on the right track for their future — and help offset the stress of paying for higher education.
These plans are offered by states and also boast certain tax advantages. You can either save and invest a pile of money for your child’s higher education or prepay for tuition at a participating school.
6. Put together a thank-you package
Have your children’s teachers been working double-time this past year to make the challenges of the pandemic a little easier for your kids? Or maybe grandma and grandpa have been helping you out with childcare so you can continue to work?
If someone in your children’s life deserves a special shout-out, you can also use this as an opportunity to teach them about expressing gratitude.
Whoever you decide to thank, when you’re shopping around for the right gift, make sure you stretch your dollars as much as possible. Download a free browser extension that automatically scours for better deals and coupons whenever you shop online.
7. Make donations
Is your family holding up fine throughout the pandemic? With nearly 11 million children living in poverty across the country, there are plenty who aren’t faring so well.
The Child Tax Credit payments and $1,400 stimulus check your kids are set to receive can serve as a perfect opportunity to teach your young ones about giving to those in need.
Get your kids involved by having them help pick a charity to donate their funds, based on their interests or age group. And don’t forget that you can claim these donations when you file your taxes next year.
8. Spend on something fun
After all the lessons on spending money responsibly, saving and investing, why not give your kids a little to spend for fun?
Maybe they want a new pair of running shoes or a family-friendly board game. Whatever it is, letting your kids pick how they spend some of their cash can help them feel empowered and mature.
If they already have plenty of spending money, maybe set the funds aside to use later for booking a relaxing beach vacation that the whole family can enjoy after the stress of the pandemic.
9. Buy life insurance
One of the best things you can do for your kids is ensure they’ll be taken care of if anything were to happen to you.
Using your funds to buy an affordable life insurance policy will ensure your children won’t have to one day worry about paying for your funeral expenses or medical bills.
Alternatively, buying life insurance policies for your children can build up thousands of dollars in “cash value” for them by the time they’re grown.
While on this most serious topic, taking care of writing your will is another way to ensure your family is taken care of and knows what to do with your finances in the event something happens to you.