Coming up with gift ideas for teens is often quite a challenge. If you’re not sure what to get them, giving them money is always a safe bet. Your teen can decide how best to spend it, and you’ll rest assured knowing that they got what they wanted.
Still, many people are hesitant to give money because they believe cold cash doesn’t fit the heartfelt atmosphere of gift-giving. This guide breaks such misconceptions by showing you some creative ways to give money to a teenager. You’ll see some out-of-the-box ideas that attach more meaning to dollar bills, as well as some that don’t involve cash at all.
Why Money Is an Excellent Gift for Teens
Before covering some fun ways to give money to a teenager, it’s worth explaining why it’s such a good gift in the first place. There are several arguments in favor of gifting money to teens, most notably:
- No risk—With most gifts, there’s at least a small chance of getting it wrong—clothes may not fit, a video game might be the one they have already played or don’t like, and so on. Money is a universal gift, so it doesn’t carry such risks
- Flexibility—Your teen has countless options for using the money they receive. They can save it or spend it on whatever they way, be it a product or experience they enjoy
- Popularity—According to Intuit’s survey, 61% of Americans choose money over traditional gifts, which confirms that it’s hard to go wrong with it
Giving your teen money for their birthday or Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t make it festive and unique. There are numerous ways to ensure that money has both intrinsic and sentimental value.
Money Gift Ideas for Teenagers Your Child Will Remember
If you need some inspiration for a unique approach to gifting money, the following suggestions are worth considering:
- Conceal the money to surprise your child
- Organize a scavenger hunt
- Build the gift into a board game
- Get your teen their first debit card
- Make an investment in their name
The best method will depend on your goal and the child’s age, so the following breakdowns of each will help you decide—or at least give you a general direction to go in.
Turn Cash Into a Surprise
If your mind is set on gifting cash, and you don’t want any over-the-top way to do it, adding a small element of surprise could be enough to delight your child. You can hide it into another gift or anything that doesn’t have a significant monetary value but still adds some fun to the overall experience.
For instance, you can fill a jar with candy and hide the money in it. You can also place it between random pages of a book so that the teen stumbles upon it unexpectedly. Your options are virtually endless, so find something your child will enjoy the most.
Set Up a Scavenger Hunt
This option is excellent for tweens and young children, though older teens might thoroughly enjoy it as well. Scavenger hunts can be a blast, and gamifying gift-giving makes it more memorable.
You can spread the money around different parts of your home or backyard and then leave clues for your child. As they go around collecting the cash, they’ll be increasingly happy about the amount they received.
Use a Board Game To Let the Child “Earn” the Gift
If you want to add some excitement to your child’s gift and enrich the celebration, a board game is a great approach. Besides spending some quality family time, it lets you turn the gift into a reward.
Place the money on different spots on the board game, or create new rules that would let your child earn it. Of course, you’ll let the child win and take it all—they just won’t know it.
Take the Money as an Opportunity for a Debit Card
Source: Nathana Rebouças
If it’s time for your child to move away from cash and get introduced to the banking system, the money you give them won’t only be a gift—you can use it to take their financial literacy to a new level through a debit card.
Checking accounts aren’t available to everyone, so if your child is still in their early teens, a prepaid card can be a solid alternative. Load the card with the amount you wish to gift—your child will certainly be excited about receiving money through their own card.
More importantly, this will be a teachable moment they can benefit from in various ways. Besides having a new method of receiving their allowance, your child will be one step closer to financial independence.
Invest on Your Child’s Behalf
Fidelity’s recent survey shows that 20% of teens invest their money, while 55% believe it’s too confusing. If you want your teen to have a gift that keeps giving (quite literally), you can use the money to invest in various assets, such as:
- Mutual funds
You can either open a custodial account for your child and place the assets in it or help your teen get their own brokerage account if they qualify. In any case, your child’s gift will grow with time and might get them interested in investing.
Bonus: Give Your Child the Gift of Financial Stability
As you saw, there’s so much more to money gifts than cash. If you think outside the norm, you can put that money to good use in numerous ways. Besides being a thoughtful gift, it can support your child’s independence and prepare them for adulthood.
If you need another financial gift that will pay itself off for decades to come, you can invest in your child’s credit profile. A good credit score has numerous benefits, from easier loan approval to significant savings throughout adulthood.
The reason a parent’s help is invaluable in building a credit profile is that most teens can’t obtain financial products that would allow them to do it independently. If your child is younger than 21, they can’t get a credit card unless they meet one of the two conditions imposed by the CARD Act of 2009:
- Demonstrating an independent ability to repay the debt
- Having a co-signer over 21 who can be held responsible for the card
While you can get around it by adding a child as an authorized user of your credit card, this isn’t a good long-term solution. Your child would get a credit profile, but they would inherit your credit history and only build credit while being registered as a user. They’d need to start over when you remove them, as all credit history associated with the card gets removed from their profile.
If you need a gift that will contribute to your child’s financial stability in the long run, FreeKick is an excellent choice.
FreeKick—Credit Building Made Easy
Created by Austin Capital Bank, FreeKick builds credit for teens and young adults (ages 14–25) by combining a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured deposit account with additional services.
You can get started in three quick steps:
- Create an Account
- Set It and Forget It
- Keep Growing
Create a FreeKick Account
You can open a FreeKick account in a couple of minutes by selecting a plan based on a one-time deposit. You can choose between a free plan and two options with low annual fees depending on the deposit amount:
|FDIC-Insured Deposit Amount||Plan|
Set It and Forget It
As soon as you open the account, FreeKick will start building a payment history for your child. All relevant information will be reported to the three major consumer credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The point at which your child’s payment history is reported depends on their age, as explained in the following table:
|Legal adults (18 and over in most states)||Within three months of opening the account|
|Minors||When the child becomes a legal adult and activates credit reporting|
If you’re happy with your child’s credit profile after 12 months, you can close the account and have funds from the deposit placed into your savings account. You can also renew the account to give your child up to 48 months of credit history.
You can close your FreeKick account even if the 12-term hasn’t ended without penalties. Note that credit bureaus only accept reporting for adults, though, so if the account is closed before your child becomes one, no reporting can be done on their behalf.
Let FreeKick Monitor and Protect Your Child’s Credit Profile (Coming Soon)
Security and peace of mind are among the most valuable gifts you can give your child, and FreeKick can help with both. Each account includes credit profile monitoring services that reduce the risk of errors or outdated information.
More importantly, it helps protect your child from synthetic identity fraud—a form of crime where a Social Security number (SSN) is combined with fake information for the purpose of creating a false identity and defrauding lenders.
To reduce the chances of your child falling victim to such a crime, FreeKick safeguards their information with various services, including:
- Social Security number tracing—Keeps track of all names, aliases, and addresses associated with your child’s SSN
- Dark Web monitoring—Surveils all internet activity related to the potential trading of the child’s personal information
- Full-service ID restoration—Offers support from a certified restoration specialist working on your child’s behalf to restore their identity if it’s compromised. FreeKick covers ancillary restoration services with a $1 million insurance
- Sex offender monitoring—Identifies and tracks all registered sex offenders in your area to alert you if an offender registers under a different name but uses your address
- Additional protection for young adults—Encompasses four services designed to keep young adults’ information safe:
- Lost wallet protection
- Change of address monitoring
- Payday loan monitoring
- Court records monitoring
Make your child’s adulthood easier and let them reap the many benefits of good credit while keeping their identity secure—sign up for FreeKick.
Featured image source: Karolina Grabowska