Giving Money as a Gift

You may have heard that it is not appropriate to give money in place of a gift, but in reality that isn’t true.  If you don’t know what to get for someone, money can be considered an acceptable gift.  When you give money as a gift, it gives the recipient the flexibility to use the money as he or she wishes.  Whether it will be used to help pay off debts, go the basic daily necessities, or just into their savings account, money will always be appreciated.

Sometimes, depending on the recipient, it just makes more sense to give cash money instead of  a physical gift.  If you don’t know what the recipient really desires, and want to make sure your gift won’t go to waste, money will assuredly but put to good use.  It can be such a waste of money to buy a gift that just ends up in storage, or left some other place to gather dust.

For those that tend to favor experiences over possessions, your gift of money can help contribute to their next vacation or adventure.  If they are planning to spend their money on something special, your contribution can help them reach their goal a little faster.

For those who maybe need money for paying off their credit card bills, or taking care of other debt,  getting cash instead of a regular gift could bring them some relief.  You don’t have to call out that you are giving cash for them to take care of debts, as that might be considered a little too intrusive, and just trust they will make the intelligent decision.

When you do choose to give money as a gift, it can be nice to dress it up a bit.  Putting the money into a nice card along with a note can help to personalize the gift.  This way they’ll know you didn’t just choose cash as a last minute gift, and instead put some thought into it.

When Money is a Good Gift

There are a lot of events that where it is not only accepted, but standard to give money as a gift.  Any of these examples would be a good time to give them cash.

  • Weddings
  • Graduations
  • Birthdays
  • Gifts for Kids
  • Bar Mitzvah


A newly married couple is expected to have many things they’ll need to get as they start their life together.  However, when a large group of other people are all buying gifts at the same time, your gift of money could help avoid the possibility of them getting a duplicate gift.  Also, as many couples nowadays live together before getting married, the traditional gifts of housewares and appliances have become less necessary.  One thing people haven’t stopped doing is taking honeymoons though, and a gift of cash can help when their credit card bills come due.


If you have somebody in your extended family with a birthday coming up soon, it is quite typical to send a card with some money.  It is appropriate for grandparents, aunts and uncles to send a little money to younger family members as way to let them know you remembered their birthday even if you aren’t their to celebrate with them.

Gifts to Kids

Almost everybody has received a card with some cash in it from your grandparents for a least a few birthdays or Christmas.  Giving money to kids for a gift is a good way for them to start learning about savings, and can start to teach them good money habits at a young age.  If you know their parents have already started an educational savings account, or just general savings account for their child, your gift of money can be a nice supplement.

Bar Mitzvah

Just like birthdays, or Christmas, a Bar Mitzvah is another traditional time to give money as a gift.  Everyone who has a Bar Mitzvah will be eagerly hoping for as many cards stuffed with money from as a many distant and random relatives as a possible.

When Money is Not a Good Gift

Sometimes its just not the right occasion to give money as a gift.

When you can’t think of any thing better, and just decide to give them some cash, it might be a sign this isn’t the right time for it.  If you know you should be putting some more thought into, maybe you should spend a little more time thinking about it, and pick something with more meaning.

When you have a strong personal connection, money is never an appropriate gift.  You wouldn’t give money for an anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or other romantic holiday to your partner.

While giving money to family member is expected from grandparents and aunts and uncles, it not appropriate in reverse.  In general, you shouldn’t give money to people who are older than you.

If you have a business relationship, professional association, or some other connection where money may be considered a bribe or a means to influence them in someway, it would not be appropriate as a gift.

Making a Gift of Money a Little More Special

Just because you’re giving money as a gift, does not mean it needs to be limited to cash or a check.  You could make a purchase of a COD or shares of stock to make the gift a little more interesting.  Maybe you know somebody who really have an interest in a certain company and loves their products.  A gift of stock could help them not only reach their financial goals, but give them something to help build that connection they already have.

Another option that can be fun for kids is to place the cash into a “puzzle box”.  There are many different variations, but they all have a some challenge to open before they can access they money you have placed inside a closed compartment.  This can make it a little more rewarding then just receiving regular old money as a gift.