‘Tis the season to be jolly careful with money. With the cost of living crisis biting budgets, most Brits (60 per cent) are planning to spend less on Christmas this year.
If you want to cut down on all those token gifts – think over-packaged bath sets, candles and chocolates – that rack up your budget but are quickly forgotten, a financial gift could be the perfect alternative.
Rather than ending up in the bin, it will provide your loved one with a money boost long into the future (who doesn’t need or want that right now?). And if you do it sustainably, it will help to contribute to a better world too.
Here’s how to pick the perfect gift that will keep on giving.
Gifts for kids and teenagers
Green debit card
Gifting your child their own debit card and account for Christmas can help them develop important financial skills for life. Apps such as GoHenry, Rooster and Beanstalk give children as young as six the freedom to earn, spend, save and even donate their money in a fun and engaging way, under the supervision of their parents.
It’s also possible for friends and family to gift money onto the card along with a Christmas message. GoHenry offers personalised debit cards, making it a thoughtful Christmas gift for children of any age.
A Junior ISA, or JISA, is a perfect way to help provide your child or grandchild with a secure financial future. While it might not get them jumping for joy on Christmas morning, we promise they’ll thank you when all the flashy plastic toys are long forgotten.
JISAs are tax-efficient savings accounts for children, who can only access the money in them when they reach 18.
While only parents or legal guardians can open one for their child, anyone can pay into it. JISAs were introduced in 2011 to encourage families to build a nest egg for their children that can be used to pay for big outlays such as university costs or buying a car or first home.
What’s more, if you choose a sustainable stocks and shares JISA, such as the one from The Big Exchange, then the money in it will be contributing to a better world for your child to live in.
Games with a financial twist can be a lot of fun while teaching young children about budgeting and spending. Money Match Cafe is a role-play game aimed at five to eight-year-olds. For children aged eight and over, Game of Life, is a classic where the player with the most money in retirement wins.
For older children, board games like Monopoly (which can now be played in an app) have been giving children crash courses in finance for generations. And the Cashflow board game encourages you to play your way out of a nine-to-five lifestyle by acquiring property, stocks, businesses and precious metals. It imitates real life, having you play against the housing market and the stock market.
Spend It! by Cinders McLeod is a beautifully illustrated book aimed at younger readers. The first book in the Moneybunny series is a great way to encourage your children to think about when to spend, or not – and why. In The Great Pet Sale, by Mick Inkpen, everything in the pet shop simply must go, with a variety of different animals on sale. But what will the little boy choose? Children can flip through this illustrated classic and discover what bargains there are to be had.
Grandpa’s Fortune Fables by Will Rainey, founder of financial education website Bluetree Savings, is a great book that teaches children the difference between being ‘rich’ and ‘wealthy’ and why gambling should be avoided. Managing Your Money By Jane Bingham, Holly Bathie, Nancy Leschnikoff and Freya Harrison is an excellent read for older kids and teenagers. With plenty of practical advice, it covers everything from student loans to internet banking and interest.
Helping your older child to afford their first home makes for a pretty valuable Christmas present. The Lifetime ISA (LISA) allows anyone aged between 18 and 39 to save up to £4,000 every tax year and receive a 25 per cent bonus from the government to help pay for a house deposit.
So, for every £4,000 saved, they’ll get a £1,000 bonus. Bear in mind that the money you put into a LISA will count towards their yearly £9,000 tax-free ISA allowance.
Gifts for adults
Ethical Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA)
An ethical Innovative Financial ISA (IFISA) allows you to invest tax-free directly in organisations that are delivering positive change. Choosing a life-changing project/s to invest in on behalf of someone you care about makes this a thoughtful and personal gift. It will also hopefully bring them a financial return over time as well as a social and/or environmental one.
For someone keen to help change the world for the better, crowdfunding platform Ethex is raising funds for Oxfordshire Community Land Trust, which is championing community-led housing as a solution to the growing affordable housing crisis in Oxfordshire, and Scottish eco-tourism enterprise Glengarry Forest Cabins. And Energise Africa has several opportunities to invest in projects providing solar energy to homes in Africa.
Or, you could make a social impact by investing in postgraduate student loans through Lendwise.
Premium Bonds may be a good alternative to giving cash or a cheque to pay into a savings account. They’re a risk-free option and it can be fun for the Bond-holder to log onto the premium bonds prize checker webpage once a month to check if they’ve won. Plus they’re backed by the government.