Smart SpendingSmart Spending

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.

By Karen Datko Nov 10, 2010 11:38AM

This post comes from Sonja Stewart at partner blog Wise Bread.


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?"


When they start talking about how FurReal Friends are way better than Zhu Zhu Pets, just smile and nod. Smile and nod.


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.


More from Wise Bread and MSN Money:

Nov 10, 2010 8:33PM

Q: Where Is The Best Place You Give Away Counterfeit Money?

A: At Kid's Birthday Party.



Kids: Thank You, Mr. Mike, For $100 Dollar Bill.

Mike: You Are Welcome, My Angel.

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.