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Supacase's avatar

Is it ok to use your child's birthday gift money?

Asked by Supacase (14488 points ) October 24th, 2010

If your young child (say no older than 5) gets cash for their birthday, is it okay to take that money and use it toward something related to their birthday? Maybe a party or large gift that you know the child wants or would like, but you could not afford without using that money?

The rationale is that s/he is too young to really know how to spend that money wisely and that the money is still going toward the child’s birthday celebration.

The other thought is that the money belongs to the child and it should be given to them to do as they please or should be saved for them.

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24 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

I would talk to the child.

Do you want cheaper gift ‘x’ and money, or gift ‘y’ and no money? and see what they say. 5 may be very young, but its old enough to understand the concept of “mine”. its one of the first things we learn in life. it’s also old enough to understand concepts such as “taken from me” and “injustice”.

flutherother's avatar

I would have spent it on the child without hesitation. At that age a child doesn’t know what is in its best interests, that is the parents responsibility. At an extreme case, if you couldn’t afford electricity you could have used this money to warm your house and not felt guilty.

Supacase's avatar

BTW, we’re talking about something around $60.

AmWiser's avatar

Personally, if I gave a child of that age money for their birthday I would hope the parent used it wisely for the child. And for whatever reason be it toward a gift, party, or to put food on the table. I would just hope the parent didn’t blow it on themselves.:-)

diavolobella's avatar

I think that is up to the parent. As long as the money is used for the child and not for another person or purpose, I believe it’s fine to save it or use it for a gift. It’s even fine to spend it to throw a party, if the child is okay with that and you receive the money in advance. I say “in advance” because of an awkward situation that my boyfriend once experienced.

A woman he worked with threw a party at a Chuckie Cheese for her child and he attended with his daughter. The child was given money at the party and the mother took it to pay the bill. Apparently she didn’t have the money to throw the party in the first place and took a chance on people giving her child money to pay for it. What if no one had given money? The adults felt bad because the child’s money went to pay for the food and drink they had just consumed and that of their children who were guests. That wasn’t what they’d intended when they gave it and no one could believe the mother took that chance. My SO insisted on paying for his and his child’s food and drink even though he’d brought a gift.

@flutherother I will agree that if you are at risk of having your power shut off or have no food, you should use it for that purpose. But, that’s an emergency situation.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I have pooled money together, bought a larger gift, and told the child that the gift was from all of the contributors. I wouldn’t pool it my own funds and say it was from me.

BTW, at five, mine “wrote” thank you notes to adult gift-givers, and added a drawing. They printed “Thank You” and I added a note.

Supacase's avatar

@poisonedantidote I do see that point. I know that my daughter knows very well what is hers. I also know that she has no concept of money – having two pennies is better than having one dollar.

My initial thought was that it is no big deal as long as it is used for the child. If the kid needed warm winter clothes, that would be a no-brainer for me. I think I’m stuck over the way the money is used. Responsibly, as has been mentioned, is probably the key for me.

Supacase's avatar

@BarnacleBill I agree! As soon as my daugther could hold a crayon, she drew a scribble of thanks on each thank you note. Then a drawing the next year. This year she can write, but not spell much other than her name, so she will be signing her own name to each one at the very least when the time rolls around. I think it is an important lesson to learn early on.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Growing up in my family, money is a usual gift for kids of all ages and babies too. The idea is the parents will put the money into a savings acct. they’ve set up. I feel this is a good idea until a kid is old enough to make decisions. I used to get an offer of having half the money to myself or the whole amount straight into savings, this changed when I reached Jr. High and then it was up to me to keep the whole amount or put some in the savings.

I guess it’s idealistic on my part to think that if people choose to have kids then they can already afford to feed, shelter and clothe them so as not to use their children’s gift money for household expenses or on themselves but that’s how I was raised and still feel.

Iclamae's avatar

I’m half and half on this.

I don’t like the idea of using it on a party. I don’t mind the parents figuring out how to use it, either by putting it in the kid’s piggy bank or taking them shopping with it to pick out toys. Putting it towards some thing.

In rough times, I would understand the parents using it towards clothes and what not for their kid. But it’s important it’s used for the child, not the adults.

john65pennington's avatar

Your daughter holds the key to this question.

Talk to her. even though she is five, she is smart enough to give you her answer.

Supacase's avatar

@john65pennington It isn’t my daughter. It is about a family friend. I thought it was an interesting dilemma, though. My daughter’s birthday is coming up in about a week and I started thinking about how I would handle the same situation.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

I would say that you talk to your child about it. If the child says no/yes then you go with the answer he/she gives you.
But if he says no then just keep the money and give it to them when they are older. But if you need the money for family groceries or paying some bills then I recommend using it and then making sure to have the same amount to give the child when they are older.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My son had a savings account that any gift money was put into when he was younger. Since we moved away from that area, the account has been closed and he now saves his money on his own.

I started teaching my son how to save and spend money when he was a child. He is 8 now and understands what it means to save money for a big purchase. I personally believe it is his money and I won’t take it from him (barring some kind of emergency). If I ever had to use his money for an emergency, I would pay it back.

Lightlyseared's avatar

As long as it’s spent on stuff for the child I think it’s OK.

chyna's avatar

Use it for the child, no issues.

Frenchfry's avatar

Yes! Use it sounds like she would have fun. That is what birthdays are for.

josie's avatar

No. You are supposed to deposit the money into an account on their behalf. Isn’t that what you would have wanted when you were a kid?

MissAusten's avatar

I always either deposit the money into the child’s savings account or give it to them to spend on something they wanted but didn’t get for their birthday (or Christmas). When the kids were younger, infant/toddler/preschool age, I’d deposit the money or (if we were short on cash) use it to buy something the child needed, like shoes, clothes, winter coat, etc.

What I do now is deposit checks but let the kids keep cash and decide (with some guidance) what to spend it on. If I gave a child money as a gift, I wouldn’t really care what the parents did with it unless they kept it for themselves.

mrrich724's avatar

Would you feel ashamed telling the gift giver why you used the gift for something of your decision rather than your child’s?

If no, then maybe it’s a safe bet. If they’d object and say, “That money was given to the child as a gift, not for XYZ,” then don’t do something you wouldn’t want them to know you are doing with it :)

If you are really really hard up for cash, and you just sacrificed to throw the kid a b-day. . . then I’m sure when the child is older they will understand :) If you aren’t hard up, give the kid the money for something extra.

tranquilsea's avatar

We always put money in their bank accounts. It taught them that if they could hold off spending it then they could save for something big.

When they got bigger and could really use the money we gave them half and put the other half in their bank accounts.

That only backfired once when my youngest was 6. He wanted to see his money. We showed him the balance on his statement and he still thought we had stolen it from him.

FutureMemory's avatar

It was a regular occurrence for me when growing up to have my father pull me aside during my birthday party so he could talk me into handing over (loaning) him the $75–100 I had just collected from all my relatives. There wasn’t one comma in that sentence.

Inspired_2write's avatar

In an emergency, but not without permission and the promise of paying them back.

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