Gift cards can be used to teach kids lifelong money lessons! Financial advisor Brad Allen talks with Milwaukee’s WTMJ-4 about some ways to talk to our kids about spending gift cards to help them build financial success down the road.

Helping Kids Redeem Gift Cards

  • Enforce the Limit – A gift card isn’t exactly like a credit card, but this is still an opportunity to teach the child about limits. Kids see parents using plastic cards all the time from groceries, to clothes to school supplies. They might not understand there is a limit on purchases. You can teach the child about using their own money if something costs more than the value of the card.
  • Comparison Shop – If you child knows exactly what game or toy they want, teach them to comparison shop. Have them make a list of the stores they could get the toy from and either go online or in store to compare the prices between the stores. If one store is having a sale help them do the math to see how much they could save.
  • Encourage Savings – If your child cannot find something they really want, this would be a good time to encourage saving the gift card for later. If what they want is more than the gift card, they could save the money and wait until they have enough. Teaching your child to save is an important step to prepare them for financial responsibility and a secure future.
  • Be Patient – Do not take kids to spend their gift cards unless you have ample time for walking through the aisles. It’s not fair to rush them when they finally get a chance to shop for themselves. If your child is struggling to make a decision, you can try narrowing down the choices.
  • Let Mistakes Happen – Don’t place too many restrictions on what they can buy. Oftentimes a child will purchase something that will lose its luster after a few minutes or break. Use this as a teaching moment. If the child begs you take them back to the store to buy something else, don’t. Next time they receive a gift card they will think longer about their purchase. This is also an opportunity, as a parent, to have a conversation about these mistakes and use them as teachable moments.

Get a guide with tips for talking to kids about money from ages 3 to 18 here.