11 Ways to Gift Money Creatively

Katie DuncanApril 7, 2023


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Thinking about giving someone a monetary gift for a birthday, graduation, wedding, or other special occasion? It’s the one gift that most people can agree on, with 61% of people preferring cash or a gift card to a traditional present.

Yet, fewer people want to give cash as a gift. While receiving a card with cash or a check rarely disappoints, it can lack a personal touch that many gift-givers seek to include.

If you’re looking for more creative ways to give money, we have some suggestions you won’t want to miss!

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Ways to Gift Money to Children Creatively

Children’s interests seem to change daily, making it difficult to nail down the perfect gift. Cash in a card can be great, but there’s always a chance they’ll spend it on a hoard of candy or the first flashy toy they see.

If you want something beyond a gift card, there are ways to gift children money that can set them up for success (and fun) in the future.

1. Start or contribute to a college education fund.

One of the most meaningful gifts you can give your loved one is an education fund. You can set up an account specifically for college expenses and make regular contributions over time. This provides an opportunity for you to start teaching the child about personal finance early on, as well as giving them something tangible that they can look forward to having when they’re ready for college.

2. Invest money in their name.

If you’re looking for a more long-term investment, consider investing money in their name. There are a number of investment vehicles that you can choose from such as stocks, bonds, CDs, money market accounts, and more. This way, you can watch your investments grow with them and potentially give them a head start when it comes time for them to begin investing on their own.

A note of caution: this can have significant tax implications, depending on how you set it up. We always recommend talking to a financial advisor before setting up investment accounts, but especially if they’re for other people.

3. Help them open their own bank account— and give them money for their first deposit.

Teaching kids financial responsibility at a young age is incredibly important, so why not open their first bank account? Besides being a fun experience that they can share with you, having their own account gives them the opportunity to learn how banks work and how to save and manage money properly. To make it even more special and memorable, consider making the first deposit into their account yourself!

4. Put money towards travel or a special trip.

Nowadays, vacations are becoming more expensive as travel costs rise, so why not put some money aside for when your loved one turns 18? You could set up a savings account specifically dedicated to this purpose and make regular contributions over time until they reach 18 years old. When they do turn 18, all of the saved funds could be used towards whatever travel they want to plan.

Ways to Gift Money to Young Adults Creatively

Have a loved one that has just moved out on their own? Young adults can be one of the hardest groups to find gifts for. Luckily, young adults are oftentimes the ones that can benefit from creatively gifted cash the most!

5. Gift a rainy-day fund.

A rainy-day fund is an emergency savings account that provides financial security in times of need. It’s the perfect gift for a young adult who may be facing unexpected expenses in their newfound independence and lack access to the financial resources provided by family members or roommates in their previous living situation. You can set up the account and make regular contributions, or just provide them with a lump sum as a one-time gift.

6. Pay a month of rent.

Renting an apartment can be expensive, especially for college students or recent graduates who may not have much saved up yet for those first few months out on their own. Paying for even just one month of rent can help ease the burden and give them some extra time to save up before they have to start paying on their own again.

7. Pay for a staycation.

Moving into a new place is stressful, so why not give your loved one a chance to relax and enjoy their new home? Paying for a staycation—such as booking a hotel room in town or setting up dinner reservations—is an easy way to make sure they get some rest and relaxation while also exploring what their new city has to offer!

8. Listen for what they need.

Whether it’s new tires or textbooks, always listen closely when your young adult talks about something they need help with financially – this could be anything from car repairs all the way down to coffee supplies! Even small amounts here and there will add up over time and show your young adult how much you care about them during this transitional period in their life.

Ways to Gift Money to Adults Creatively

Monetary gifts aren’t just for kids! There are meaningful ways to gift money to people of all ages.

9. Gift money for experiences.

A great way to gift money is by earmarking it for an experience or trip. You can give cash that they can use on anything related to their travel plans, such as flights, hotels, Airbnb stays, or tours and experiences. This freely-given gift allows them to have the freedom of choice—going wherever they’d like—while also taking the pressure off of them to include you or go somewhere just to please you.

10. Make a charitable donation in their name.

Is your loved one the type that already has all that they want and need? Consider making a charitable donation in their name.

Giving back is always appreciated and respected, especially when it’s done in someone else’s name. Giving a donation in honor of your loved one shows that you care about their values and beliefs and can be deeply meaningful!

It’s also great because it’s not just a one-off gift. The impact will continue long after the donation has been made.

11. Create a fun day with gift cards.

Gift cards are becoming increasingly popular gifts these days because they allow people the freedom to choose while still being thoughtful. They even provide opportunities for gift-givers to get creative.

Create a fun day that your loved one doesn’t have to pay for by getting gift cards to their favorite locations. Pair a meal to their favorite restaurant with activities like a spa day, the movies, or shopping at their favorite store.

Cash Can Be the Right Gift

Finding creative ideas can make giving money even more special! Whether you choose to save for something experiential, get them started with investing, or get them gift cards from their favorite places, you’re sure to show your loved ones just how much you appreciate them with a monetary gift.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer Member FINRA/SIPC and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018.

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Katie Duncan

Katie Duncan is a financial writer based in Austin, Texas. Her articles include financial advice for freelancers, homebuyers, and more. When she’s not writing, Katie loves traveling and exploring the outdoors with her friends and her dog, Poe.