Gift Cards and Kids: A Good or Bad Thing?
Gift cards. People love to give them and people love to get them. It's a great gift, especially for those hard-to-shop-for people in your life--my husband asks for an Apple gift card, a Starbucks gift card, and a Barnes and Noble gift card every year for his presents. The family obliges, and everyone is happy. Recently my 12-year-old niece has started asking for them....is that good or bad?
That little piece of plastic money into your kids' hands can be great. It lets them get some good practice at handling money. But there are a few hints to tell your kids when they start using those gift cards.
-- Guard that card. Remind your kids that the gift card is just like cash. If it is lost or stolen, it is gone. One thing my sister did for her daughter is get her a small wallet just for her gift cards so that after the holidays, she would always know where they were.
-- Using it may mean you also have to pay cash. It's tough to ring up an exact $25 purchase at Wal-Mart. No one wants to leave $0.79 on that gift card, and most cards will not redeem any remaining balances. So, an extra few bucks may be needed when they are using a gift card. Two choices here: either your kids need to bring along a few dollars from their piggy bank just in case, or you may offer to pay an agreed-upon overage.
-- Bring a list. Even though that $50 card may make them feel rich, the stuff they put into that cart will add up fast. Have your kids keep a list of wants and bring it along when they are shopping.
-- It may cost you not to use it. Some gift cards, especially those from banking or credit institutions, will start to deduct a fee if you don't use a card after a certain time. Be sure to read all of the fine print (for most you can look online to see if there are any fees). A good rule of thumb: have your kids use gift cards first before spending any "real" money in their piggy banks to be sure to avoid any sort of non-usage fees.
Have your kids received gift cards? WIll you give gift cards this holiday season?