SINEAD RYAN considers the value of giving money as a gift this Christmas...
Buying Christmas gifts for your children, family and friends can often be a nightmare, you have so many to buy that you get overwhelmed and end up buying in bulk rather than consider what the person might actually like.
Particularly with children we tend to stumble into the pitfalls of giving gifts for the sake of it until they are surrounded by torn wrapping paper and overloaded with gifts they will never look at again. It's time to put an end to the panic mass buy, you're entitled to one or two miscellaneous gifts for that surprise visitor, but that's it.
We'd all rather a voucher for a great restaurant than bath salts in a house with only a shower!
It's time we start considering the gift of money at Christmas. There is this festive taboo about such an act but the most practical answer is that it will be spent on something the receiver truly wants, rather than what you think they would like. Let's be honest, we'd all prefer to get a voucher for a great restaurant than a bath salts kit in a house with only a shower. For children, setting up a savings account is a great way of explaining the value of money and instilling savings habits in simple terms that will pay dividends in the years to come. On top of all that, it means that you will really be able to stick to your Christmas budget and ensure your savings stay on track and in the bank!
It's almost comical that we consider money a thoughtless gift. Here are a few ideas on how to package money as a gift.
1. ?Savings stamps.
It sounds silly but it's ideal for teaching a young child saving skills while also feeding their enjoyment of collecting 'stickers?. Once the child has filled up their book you can talk to them about putting it away in a ?proper? savings account.
2. ?Piggy Bank.
There's nothing like coins rattling around in a pretty piggy to get children excited about money. There are lots available from toy stores and they can be taught to 'spend some, save some? when receiving gifts of money from family members. See how quickly piggy can get filled up.
3. Books of Money
Another great gift for children are storybooks designed to instill financial concepts into children. It's not all brimstone and mortar either, ?Megan and the Money Tree? by Emma Kennedy, financial correspondent for the Sunday Business Post (?5.52) is a simple children's story with a resource book to help parents clearly explain the lessons on savings, risks and the importance of financial decisions. Other literary options include ?Money grows on Trees?, David C. Heyman €4.49 and ?The Young Investor?, Katherine Bateman €11.67, all from Easons.com.
Vouchers are always a great gift, but do check those pesky expiry dates. Some stores charge if you don't use up the voucher after a year, with an ?inactive balance charge? of up to €3 per month.
5. Savings Account
Opening a savings account for your godchild, niece or nephew is a great way of getting them started on the savings road and one that their parents will surely appreciate! A savings account teaches them about money but without spending it immediately! Many banks reserve their best interest rates for young savers. Rabo Direct's account gives 1.25% p.a. from amounts as little as €1 with no fees. Using the Rabo Money Mover means you can transfer money in regularly at no extra cost.?To find out more about setting up a RaboDirect Savings account visit RaboDirect.ie or call 1850 882 244.