5 reasons to give kids cash for the holidays
I've never seen a kid do a happy dance around the living room for a gift card.
Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? Do you remember how hard it was to get your hands on cash?
I know I'm dating myself here, but when I was young, a dollar was, well, paper money. I could get a lot of candy for that dollar. A lot.
So why have I been so hesitant to give kids cash for gifts? Will I be getting them practical things next, like socks and sweaters and underpants?
No way. I'm refusing to become that grown up. Here's why I'm sending cash for Christmas, and you should too.
All kids love cash. I don't care how old or young they are, every kid loves the cold, hard green stuff. Why? Because the Federal Reserve puts a chemical in every dollar bill that makes you instantly lose your mind and try to bargain your Pampers for an extra buck.
I'm kidding. Kind of.
I recently went to a young child's birthday party where she received a $5 bill. No lie. Five bucks. But you would have thought that card held the Golden Ticket to Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory by the way she swung around the room singing. I, on the other hand, cursed myself under my breath, thinking about the $30 I wasted on books and craft supplies, which, big surprise, she did not like. Lesson learned.
You spend a LOT less. If you're sending the gift in the mail, shipping, even for a lightweight gift, will cost you, sometimes more than you wanted to spend on the gift in the first place (you cheapo).
Get them an educational game that runs just under $20, add at least $7 in shipping, not to mention the $3 to $4 in wrapping, and your thoughtfulness just cost you nearly $30.
Or you can get a 99-cent card, throw in a twenty and send it with a 44-cent stamp. You just shaved nearly $10 off your cost and became the most popular distant relative to your niece. Being popular just means throwing money at people. Look at politicians.
No returns or refunds. It's money. No one will ever complain about getting money. They can't return it or wish it was something else, because it can become what they want it to be.
You won't have to spend hours in a mall or researching the hottest toys online just to find out she has that toy or hates that color. Whether the kid will save up the cash to get something she really wants or blow it all on candy and stick-on tattoos, money always fits, and it can be used for a great life lesson.
You're teaching them fiscal responsibility. If you want to be more hands-on and responsible, which is noble, send them an essay on the difference between Keynesian economics and
Austrian economics, tell them to write a book report on it, and promise to send them the $20 after you receive the report.
Or you can just wrap the money with the financial section of your newspaper with a sticky note that says, "You better hang on to this." Nothing like a little doom and gloom to wake those tweens out of their Justin Bieber haze.
You'll bond with them. Once they get the money, have an open dialogue with them. You can get to know them and their interests by what they spent the cash on. Ask nonchalantly, "So what did you end up getting yourself for Christmas?"
Of course you'll want to check in with Mom and Dad before you go sending off money in case they have a particular rule about kids and cash. Be polite and ask what their preferences are. In some cases, you can offer a gift card instead.
Just remember: I've never seen a kid do a happy dance around the living room for a gift card. Must be that chemical the Fed uses.
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