On average, Americans will spend about $850 on Christmas in 2012, according to the American Research Group. While your child may be beaming on Christmas morning when he or she opens his or her fourth Barbie or race car, the chances are that he or she will grow bored of the gift over the next couple months. So, why not give your child a gift that is not only fun, but educational as well. We all want our kids to be money-savvy when they grow up, so why not start the educational process when they are young?
There are a plethora of different types of children's ATMs out there that help kids learn money management. They cost about $40 and accept real bills and coins. Some models store money up to $999.99 and actually allow kids to create savings accounts and view the balance of their accounts.
There are many well-known, and not-so-well-known, games available to consumers that will not only teach your children about money but investing as well. Monopoly can teach your kids about buying property and about investing in things instead of just holding on to a pile of cash. The Game of Life teaches about expenses they will incur in their lifetime from college to retirement. The game Payday teaches children about earning an income, paying bills and dealing with unexpected expenses. Lastly, Stock Ticker teaches children about buying and selling stocks and how doing this may allow a person to accumulate more money than any other player.
While Monopoly is an internationally-renowned example of a financially-orientated board game, social experiences such as "Sim City" and "Zoo Tycoon" have evolved this concept to place youngsters in positions of virtual power and wealth. This empowers them to operate companies and learn about core financial products while enjoying a fun and innovative gaming experience in the process.
Buying your child a stock in a company he or she knows well, such as Disney or Mattel, is a great way to teach him or her about investing. By using sites such as Oneshare.com or Giveashare.com, you can obtain a framed shareholder's certificate that your children can hang on their walls. Prices will vary depending on the price of the chosen stock.
Not only are books educational in that they teach your children how to read, but many books are focused on matters of money. "Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock" is a story about two twins; one twin saves and the other spends. The Coin Counting Book teaches young children the value of each of the coins in circulation. At the end, it talks about the two choices you have with your money: spending or saving.
Christmas is a time for giving and compassion, and all too often, the holiday ends up being extremely commercialized. Make part of your child's gift a donation to a charity in his or her name. Explain to your children that by giving some of their gifts to someone else that they are helping a less fortunate individual live a better life.
The Bottom Line
By giving your children gifts that teach them about money, you are doing them a favor in the long run. For under $50, there are plenty of ways you can teach your child about giving back, saving and investing. The concept of teaching money management to children is an extremely topical one, especially as the global economy continues to suffer significant decline.