Over the past few days, I must have logged 400 miles driving with my kids to find a Christmas gift for my wife, Jill. I do this to myself every year. I wait to the final few days, only to scramble to try to find the “perfect” gift. Store after store we go, and we go, but all I hear from my kids is “no, no, no” instead of “ho, ho, ho.”
I don’t mind driving. In fact, I get some of my best thinking while driving. I am not really a radio guy, and that drives my kids nuts. My kids say I am old and only listen to the “oldies” because my favorite album is still The Joshua Tree by U2. They may have a point since that was released in 1987.
Anyway, on our journey around Cape Cod, I was thinking of some great ideas for gifts with a financial twist!
Little kids love to drop their coins in piggy banks, which encourage saving at a young age. Some piggy banks even offer separate chambers for spending, investing, and saving, to help instill good financial behaviors in the youngest of investors.
My kids often receive gift cards for Christmas – and then proceed to lose them, at least temporarily (until I find them). So, I like to make sure each of them has a wallet where they know they can keep track of those gift cards until that dreaded trip to the mall.
If someone on your list loses their wallet (you know who I am talking about), get a Tile. Tile attaches to your keychain or slips into your wallet and uses Bluetooth on your phone to keep track of that item. A proximity sensor can even notify you if you’ve left your wallet behind at the store!
The abacus isn’t just the original calculator; it’s a terrific way to teach kids counting and arithmetic concepts. Bonus: It doesn’t need batteries and doesn’t require Internet access either.
Ghelfi’s Chocolate Coins
Go down and see my good friend Scott Ghelfi, from Ghelfi’s Candies in Falmouth and Mashpee. He’s a great guy and very creative. Why not give someone “money” and a sweet treat all in one gift! You can even buy chocolate bills if their tastes run on the more expensive side. And for those special folks, ask him to add his sea salt to his mouth-watering chocolate. Jill and my kids go crazy for it.
If becoming a real estate tycoon is not in the cards for you during this lifetime, you can at least pretend to be one by mastering the game of Monopoly. Give this game to your family and build your riches while shamelessly forcing your opponents into bankruptcy. It’s fun!
If commodities trading is more your style than real estate investment, check out Pit. This trading card game is even older than Monopoly, if you can believe it. Players trade commodities by exchanging cards. Just like with real commodities exchanges, there are no turns and lots of shouting!
The “Beckoning Cat” is a figurine popular in Asian restaurants and shops. It’s Japanese in origin. According to custom, the cat’s upraised paw should be pointed towards the door, to wave in good fortune for its owners. Calico-painted ones are supposed to be the luckiest, while gold ones (or those holding coins) signify wealth.
This online service lets you give stocks as gifts, including fractional amounts, so you don’t need to spend too much. It’s a fun way for kids and adults alike to own the same brands they love – Tesla, Disney, Apple, and many others.
Some people worry about every fluctuation in the markets, especially the folks who don’t have a sound investment system. Give them a stress ball – help them to channel that anxiety.
Hannoush Famous Diamonds
Stop in and see my buddies, Fadi or Mustapha, at Hannoush Jewelers in Falmouth. They always do a great job. Knowledgeable, friendly, patient, and extremely reasonable. Diamonds always make every gal very happy and, heck, you can always hit the pawn shop if things get tight!
Think and Grow Rich! by Napoleon Hill
This is one of my favorites books – I can probably recite it from memory! Hill interviewed the biggest tycoons of his day – everyone from Andrew Carnegie (who gave him the assignment) to Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller and others – and converted their wisdom to a set of principles to help people realize both their financial and their life goals. It will be required reading for my kids in 2018.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Another classic financial bestseller, first published in 1949 and still in publication today. Let’s face it; the classics never go out of style. Warren Buffet calls it, “the best book on investing ever written.”
Opposuit makes all sorts of men’s, women’s, and kid’s clothing in bright and unforgettable prints you won’t find anywhere else. The “Cashanova” suit looks like it’s made of Benjamins – $100 bills, that is.
The Stock Orb by Ambient
For those who can’t stop watching their computer screen. This neat little device arrives set up to track the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It glows green or red to indicate market movement up or down, or yellow if there is no change.
You Need a Budget App (YNAB)
YNAB is an app that forces you to live within your means by developing a budget around your actual income. There is a built-in “accountability partner” and online classes with a live instructor to help learn budgeting basics. Offering to pay the small annual fee could be a very helpful gift.
Contribution to a Roth IRA
If you are looking for something a little more serious, and your teen worked a summer job this year, open a Roth IRA in his or her name to encourage saving for retirement. If a loved one already has a Roth IRA, you can always write a check earmarked to contribute to that Roth. Contributions can total no more than the amount of the account owner’s earned income (up to the $5,500 annual limit for an individual under age 50).
Contribution to a 529 Plan
A 529 Plan contribution is another great gift for a young person. Savings in a 529 Plan grow tax-free (although the contributions are after-tax) and can be used to help college students pay for tuition, books and other education-related expenses.
Subscription to a Financial Periodical
Help someone on your list stay abreast of what’s happening in the stock market with a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, Money or similar publication.
And finally – for your favorite investment advisor – a crystal ball!
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas to help round out your holiday shopping list.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year.
Jeff Cutter, CPA, PFS is President at Cutter Financial Group, LLC, with offices is Falmouth, Duxbury, and Mansfield. Cutter Financial Group provides private wealth and investment management advice incorporating low risk, low volatility financial strategies. Jeff can be reached at email@example.com.
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