Best Money Gifts for 2021: A Personal Finance Holiday Gift Guide

With the holidays coming up, you’re probably thinking about what you might want to give that special someone. Or that special little someone.

We share a few money related ideas that might help you find the perfect gift.

These gifts are all in some way related to money – this could be actual money (as is the first suggestion) or something that can help you become better with your money. These may be books, planners, guides, etc.

We hope you find something great below and let us know if you get anyone anything from this list! πŸ™‚

Table of Contents
  1. How About Cash?
  2. Contribute to a 529
  3. Give Stock
  4. Need an Amazing Home Planner?
  5. Family Emergency Binder
  6. Send a Statement (Card)
  7. A Few Amazing Books
  8. A Money Workbook for Couples
  9. Some Personal Finance Swag & Gear

How About Cash?

I’m Chinese (surprise!) and for all important occasions, but especially birthdays and Chinese New Year, our family gives cash. The best gift is always cash.

Brand new crisp bills in a red envelope like this one. So crisp that the bills stick together and are hard to get apart.

For various reasons, I know some people don’t like giving cash (it’s tacky? not sentimental?) but I urge you to give it a try. It’s a little like giving someone a wallet but making sure you stick a dollar inside because gifting an empty wallet is bad luck. Giving a gift card they won’t use is bad luck!

If giving money makes you feel a little uncomfortable, let me assure you that no one is ever uncomfortable receiving cash. πŸ™‚

Contribute to a 529

If you want to give a gift to a littler someone, consider making a deposit into their or their child’s 529 plan!

If you aren’t familiar with 529 plans, we consider it one of the best ways to save for college for a variety of reasons. One of the best reasons is that anyone can contribute to a 529 plans and if the beneficiary doesn’t need it, you can always change it to someone else.

The only thing you have to keep in mind are gift taxes but unless you intend to give more than $15,000 a year, you have nothing to worry about (that’s the limit before taxes come into play). If you do plan on giving more than that, you’ll want to review the gift tax rules but there are ways to structure it so you don’t need to worry about taxes. (if this is you, look up the five-year gift tax average rule)

Give Stock

My friend Jessica suggested that one could gift shares of stock. It’s similar to contributing to a 529 from a gift tax perspective but gets a little trickier when you talk about minors. If they have a custodial investment account, you can just contribute to that account. Otherwise, you need to open one up for them.

If you want to give stock that you don’t already own, Stockpile is a company that makes it easy to give someone stock. You simply buy a gift card and they redeem it on the Stockpile site.

Alternatively, you can go with a service like EarlyBird, which is designed for parents to help get their children investing. EarlyBird is a Registered Investment Advisor and offers fixed portfolios with fees of $1 per month per child. They also charge a $2 processing fee per gift.

Need an Amazing Home Planner?

Need a planner for 2022 or know someone who does? I want to recommend one from my friend Laurie from the Passionate Penny Pincher.

If you already love checklists and planners, check out the home planner and see for yourself.

If you don’t know much about them, they’re basically a guide for your day, week, and year; packaged into a beautiful notebook. The pictures are really thorough (as is the planner) to give you a sense of what is included.

Here’s how Laurie describes them:

This is NOT your traditional planner. The Home Planner is a game changer for busy families because of the pre-made checklists! 

Each checklist is designed to add MORE time and LESS work to an already busy day. Easily check off those daily tasks along with any weekly tasks that may not be at the top of the priority list. When was the last time you organized the stack of cookbooks on top of the fridge or developed the pictures on your phone? The checklist will make sure you don’t forget.

Along with the weekly checklists, there are also seasonal checklists to help throughout the year. Whether you need a list for vacation planning, hosting guests, or yard maintenance, these checklists are perfect to make sure your bases are covered. For unique recurring tasks in your home – seasonal or personal – add them to the monthly checklist page so that you don’t forget. 

There are physical as well as digital versions of the planner – plus she has several other home planning products worth checking out.

Laurie is running a Semi-Annual Sale from now until November 21st where you can get a discount using these Passionate Penny Pincher coupon codes:

  • TURKEY for $10 off $50
  • THANKS for $25 off $100+
  • GIVING for $50 off $200+

Check out the Home Planner

Family Emergency Binder

Everyone needs an “In-Case-of Emergency” binder for their money and their life but starting one can be a little daunting. We provide a guide to making your own ICE binder but if you want a series of templates you can just fill out, I recommend checking out Chelsea Brennan’s Family Emergency Binder.

This 16-section template covers pretty much everything from personal information to insurance to medical to childcare.

Do you have pets? There’s a section for that.

Rental property? Yep, it’s in there.

There’s even a memorial service template – something you probably didn’t think about.

Get it for $39.

For a limited time, you can get the Family Emergency Binder on a flash drive.

It costs the same as the digital version and you get:

  • A setup walkthrough video from me and PDF setup guide
  • A complete fillable Family Emergency Binder, with options for different family structures.
  • Detailed folder system by binder section to make finding paperwork quick and easy
  • Family Emergency Binder keychain so the drive doesn’t get lost!
  • A gift box that safely holds the flash drive in an elastic loop, so it’s safe in transit

Send a Statement (Card)

My friend Stefanie O’Connell Rodriquez is the host of Real Simple Magazine’s podcast Money Confidential and founder of Statement Cards.

If you want to celebrate and recognize an important woman (or women!) in your life but the cards at the store just don’t work, consider doing it with a Statement Card.

The cards are well-designed, strong (100 lb card stock!), and filled with empowering messages guaranteed to make her smile – just see them for yourself.

A Few Amazing Books

Last but not least, books can be a good gift if done correctly. It’s a little like exercise equipment, you have to know your recipient really well so you don’t end up getting them a paperweight. πŸ™‚

I want to share a few books that I think won’t become paperweights:

Stacked: Your Super-Serious Guide to Modern Money Management by Joe Saul-Sehy and Emily Guy Birken – I haven’t seen this book but I know both authors and I have a sneaking suspicion that this book will be both entertaining and educational in a way that will get the reader better with their money.

Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change by Tanja Hester – This book I have seen and looked through (I haven’t read it in its entirety) but if you care about where your money is going and the full cost of the things you buy, Tanja’s book will open your eyes to the various second order effects of your spending.

Fire the Haters by Jillian Johnsrud – If you or someone you know is a creator, whether it’s blogging, Youtube, Instagram, etc; and want to learn how to navigate that world, get them a copy of Jillian’s book. Whether it’s your inner critic or an external one, Jillian shows you a way forward through the noise so you can shine.

A Cat’s Guide To Money: Everything You Need to Know to Master your Purrsonal Finances, Explained by Cats by Lillian Karabaic – I know nothing about this book other than it looks super cute and my friend Stephonee recommended it. πŸ™‚

A Money Workbook for Couples

If you thought managing money for yourself was tough, wait until you enter a relationship! Do you share finances? Do you keep it separate? Who has debt? What are you going to do about it? How do you organize your finances to reach your goals?

These are all tough questions but my friend Kara (founder of Bravely Go) has just the workbook for you – First Comes Love, Then Comes Money. It’s a downloadable workbook that help you navigate those challenges. It won’t give you the answers but it’ll help you know which questions to ask. πŸ™‚

Some Personal Finance Swag & Gear

Finally, if you’re looking for some personal finance themed swag – clothes, hats, bags, etc. – to give out as gifts, some of my friends have stores with great looking stuff:

Finally, if you have any great ideas for a money related gift that I should include on this list, tell me in the comments or email me!

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Virgie Bright Ellington says

    Hey Jim,
    Thank you for the great money gift ideas.
    My husband is Chinese, and I learned from him and his family how much fun it is to give & receive those lycee envelopes!
    Thanks much again –
    Love your posts!
    Virgie

    • Jim Wang says

      You’re welcome! I think the red envelope tradition is a lot of fun and no one is every disappointed when they get money!

  2. Fran Campbell says

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your amazing family.. Thank you for the money hints.. I now have 2 great grand daughters and I send checks in their Christmas cards and there are 2 birthdays in the crowd al which also contains as much as I can pack in for my daughter and her husband, 2 grandchildren and spouses and the two babies.. They get toys, clothing and all of the checks go into 529s all sent in a big priority box. I usually spend 2 to 3 thousand bucks on their Christmas and Birthday checks.. I do not count the other things as they are purchases during all the previous year. I used to give my 2 grandchildren shares of McDonald etc. My grand daughter when she was old enough cashed them and blew the money but the Grand son cashed them when he bought his first home. I have no idea if he is still in the market or not. He and his sister will inherit my Roth roll over conversion and the balance of the taxable IRA. My only daughter will inherit all else and she has done a great job but recently hired a Financial advisor at Schwab. I enjoy doing my own investing after 2 bad experiences with Financial managers. Enjoy Turkey day Fran Campbell

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