Teen girl looking at Greenlight app while shopping for the holidays to keep track of budget

Dec 20, 2022

Top money gift ideas for kids and teens


- Money gifts can be thoughtful with the right approach. They're versatile, focused on the recipient, and can show that you care.

- Money gifts help kids and teens learn how to manage money. They provide a useful tool on top of a traditional gift.

- Instead of a traditional gift, try a virtual piggy bank — or send them a surprise with Greenlight pay link.

Money gifts are an interesting and fun way to celebrate a special occasion. Plus, they're often the perfect move for the hard-to-shop-for individual. 

If you approach it the right way, a cash gift can be a thoughtful and useful present. With a few money gift ideas at your disposal, you can look like a hero during a birthday, the holidays, and more. Think you can’t give money in unique ways? These ideas will make you think again.

Creative money gift ideas for kids and teens

Kids and teens are a finicky group when it comes to the perfect gift. Their tastes seem to change like the wind. What was once a must-have item becomes a dust collector in a matter of months. But money will never collect dust, especially if you present it in the right way. 

Instead of a gift — try a first-time debit card

Financial literacy for teens and kids isn’t inherent. It’s a taught and learned behavior. So instead of giving the gift of money, why not start with a basic tutorial on debit cards? Greenlight® offers a debit card that allows kids to learn money management skills and teach responsibility at the same time.

Young boy sitting on couch holding custom Greenlight debit card while mom sits next to him and watches proudly

When you order the card, you can set up your Parent app and transfer money into your kid’s debit card. You can even get a custom card with a special memory on it. Your kid's debit card is linked to a parental account, making it easy to transfer money to the account for any occasion: a birthday, graduation, completing chores, the holidays, or good grades on a report card. Nice!

Send them a surprise — with Greenlight pay link

Do your kids and teens already have a Greenlight debit card? Make it easy for friends and family to send money to your kids and teens for everything from gifting to IOUs. With pay link, kids can now share their unique link to receive money from friends and family — with your approval on every payment. The best part? It’s quick, easy, and free. 

Not seeing pay link in your app? Make sure you have the latest version of Greenlight. (To update your app, head to the Apple App Store or Google Play and download the latest version.) Then, head to your Parent Dashboard and navigate to your child's dashboard. Tap “Edit Profile” on their dashboard. From there, you should see a toggle labeled “Allow link sharing.” Toggle the pay link on — and you’re all set! 

Learn more about pay link here.

Foreign money

You don’t have to be a world traveler to give foreign money to teens and kids. Banks often carry a number of foreign notes from Mexico, Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.

While this money gift isn’t spendable in a traditional sense, it can open a young mind or spark an interest in numismatics and how money is different across the world. It’s also one of the most creative ways to give money as a gift.

If you want to give this gift a special touch, include money from areas of the world that the recipient is interested in visiting. This can get their curiosity going while they imagine how they'll spend your cash gift when they travel there.

Instead of a gift — try a virtual piggy bank

No money gift idea is more timeless than a piggy bank. It illustrates how kids can save up for a particular purchase or goal — a practice that can help them buy a car or a home down the road.

Animated Greenlight virtual piggy bank against purple and green background

The cool factor is often lost on teens and recent grads, but you can modernize it by choosing an electronic or virtual piggy bank instead of a traditional one.

Greenlight offers a virtual piggy bank option for kids and teens. Instead of storing physical money, kids can use their money management app to watch their savings add up over time, earn rewards, and learn how to invest.

Money origami

If you’re an artsy person that has more time on your hands, a creative money gift idea that will wow your recipient is money origami. Started in Japan in the early 17th century, origami is the ancient art of folding paper into shapes and objects. Traditionally, these shapes were primarily animals and birds, but you can use online sites to create money origami of your own — many even have free printable instructions or templates to help you.

So whether you want to create a money rhino or a money flower, just follow a few simple steps to make dollar bill origami that becomes a fun money gift for any type of occasion.

Money pizza box

If you have time to make a gift but you don’t have the patience for origami, a money pizza box is the sweet spot between your folding talent and a great gift. To start, find a pizza box — we recommend checking with your local pizza place!

Once you have the pizza box, you’re the money pizza chef. Roll the dollar bills to create the crust, place dollar bills in the middle, or fold them into makeshift slices and add change as pepperoni. It’s crafty and creative. You can even put a message on the lid or the underside of the box to add a personal element, which makes the money pizza box a winner in the realm of money gift ideas.

Money gift ideas for special occasions

If you need to create a gift for older teens and adults, the pizza box or piggy bank may seem a bit juvenile. Thankfully, you can always cater your gift idea to suit the tastes of the recipient. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Graduation gift

Money is always a thoughtful gift for any high school or college student taking the next step in their life. Fortunately, there's no shortage of DIY homemade gifts that are sure to endear you to the graduate in your life.

One example is a diploma. This falls hand-in-hand with origami, but it’s far easier. Simply roll bills, wrap them with ribbon, and voila! You have yourself tiny little diplomas as a gift. You can also fold a few dollar bills into a graduation cap to give the gift of cold hard cash to your grad.

Birthday gift

Here’s an idea that’s sure to be welcomed by all ages. Start a tradition of putting $1 per year in birthday cards. So on a child’s fifth birthday, they receive $5, and on someone’s 40th birthday, they receive $40. Your family and friends will look forward to this fun money gift.

Valentine’s Day gift

Money gift ideas might not seem like the right fit for a Valentine’s Day gift, at least at first glance. But given properly and to the right person, they’re surprisingly sweet.

One way to give the gift of cash to a loved one is through a familiar vessel — a box of chocolates. Rather than keep the chocolates inside the box, take them out but leave the wrappers. Then, fold dollar bills to fit each wrapper. Voilà!

Mother’s Day gift

Mom isn’t always the best candidate for a money gift. But with a touch of sentimentality and creativity, she’ll love it.

Your mother almost assuredly told you at one point in your life that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Well, now it’s time to show off your green thumbs. One humorous way to give mom some cash is by making a money tree or topiary that reimagines one of her most famous lessons.

Use a small wooden dowel, a foam ball, and a few pins to bring this money tree to life in minutes. Mom will remember this gift for years to come.

Holiday money gift ideas

Regardless of what festive end-of-the-year holiday you celebrate, you can always use money as a great gift. If you celebrate Christmas, give some Christmas cash by creating a Christmas money tree.

If you’re Jewish, give the gift of gelt this holiday season through a gift box. You could use the same idea as a box of chocolates, or you could just use a tissue box that’s lying around the house and fill it with cash.

You don’t have to spend much on money or props to create a money gift box, just so long as you give the impression of love and thoughtfulness.

Give financial literacy — with Greenlight

What’s better than our money gift ideas? Sharing financial literacy with the exciting world of Greenlight. With spending, savings, a mobile app, and a debit card, Greenlight helps kids earn cash back and savings rewards just to learn how to save and spend money properly.

Greenlight app on mobile screen with personalized holiday themed debit card against green background

Presents are great, but financial literacy is something everyone can learn to appreciate for the rest of their lives. Interested in buying a Greenlight subscription for another family? Learn more about giving financial literacy. Just in time for the holidays!

Try today. Our treat.

After your one-month trial, plans start at just $4.99/month for the whole family. Includes up to five kids.

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