Top 7 Gifts for Teaching Older Kids About Money

Last Updated Dec 9, 2010 6:18 PM EST

Teens and young adults are tough when it comes to finding the right gift. Indeed, 10% of adults describe children as the most difficult people in their life to buy for, according to a Discover Financial Services survey. If you can't please your kids at least give them something that's good for them. For kids under 13 look here. For kids 13 and older, here's a short list of gifts that will help them learn about money:

· Family 401(k) If your kids have a part-time job or worked over the summer and have taxable income you can open a Roth IRA for them anytime before April 15. It takes about 15 minutes. You do it all online, and you may match as much of their income as you like up to $5,000.

· Two books and a website The financial lessons are simple and entertaining in The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton; the lessons are simple and compelling in The Investment Answer by Daniel Goldie and Gordon Murray. And the lessons are free at, a fascinating math-teaching website endorsed by Bill Gates.

· Apps that track spending It's becoming easier to track how much you spend in real time through apps like Xpenser, Expensify, Smallspend, iXpansit and Tweet what you spend. The best one may be Expense Tablet for iPad. Most apps are cheap. Some are free. It's the device that will set you back.

· Apps for mobile banking Bill paying, money transfers and purchases increasingly are done via your mobile device, and most of the apps you'll need are free. You just need an account at the banks that have the best mobile options like the Chase Gift Shelf, which allows you to buy personalized gift cards and send them via text message or email. You can also get your older kids up to speed by getting them an iPhone with spending and tracking apps from Paypal or Mint.

· Debit card linked to a checking account People have begun using debit cards more than credit cards, which is helpful in keeping from spending more money than you have. Older teens should have a debit card, especially if they buy stuff online where a simple ATM card may be useless. But to avoid excessive fees the card should be linked to a checking account at your bank.

· Stock of a company they know Interest in the stock market has been closely tied to financial literacy and long-term financial security. You can gift a single share of most large companies -- kids love Disney, Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks, Game Stop and Harley Davidson -- and get a stock certificate to wrap and present. Start at or

· Set of poker chips Many of life's critical lessons can be learned at a poker table, like how to manage money and measure risk and reward. Poker hones social and math skills; it develops the part of the brain used in critical thinking. It also strengthens memory. And, well, it's an awful lot of fun.

Photo courtesy Flickr user plutor.
More on MoneyWatch:
· Top 7 Gifts for Teaching Young Kids About Money
· Start Your Kids Early with a Family 401(k)
· How to Open a Roth IRA for Your Kids
· Advantages of a pre-paid debit card
· When debit cards are dangerous
· How Stocks Teach Kids About Money and Math
· Why Kids Should Play Poker

  • Dan Kadlec

    Daniel J. Kadlec is an author and journalist whose work appears regularly in Time and Money magazines. He is the former editor of Time’s Generations section, which was written and edited for boomers. Kadlec came to Time from USA Today, where he was the creator and author of the daily column Street Talk, which anchored the newspaper's business coverage. He has co-written three books, including, most recently, With Purpose: Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life. He has won a New York Press Club award and a National Headliner Award for columns on the economy and investing.