The countdown to Christmas is on and if you’re still wondering what to get for that special someone, why not consider financial well-being. Yes, instead of scouring crowded malls in search of toys, electronics or those old-time favourites – holiday sweaters – consider giving your loved ones a gift that will help them better manage, save, grow and protect their money.
Wait; before you think what a downer that is for a holiday present, think again.
With Canada’s national consumer debt at its highest levels ever and increasing at its greatest rate in nearly two years, it’s never been timelier to give the gift of financial help. Or you might want to combine a thoughtful financial gift with something else on your loved one’s wish list.
So, just in time for the holidays, here are some great, Santa-approved financial gift ideas guaranteed to fit perfectly under the Christmas tree and help ensure a happy and financially rewarding 2013.
• Give the gift that keeps on giving.
Instead of throwing cash into an envelope, give a gift that will increase in value over time. This could be Canadian Savings Bonds; a contribution to an RRSP or RESP; or the gift of stocks in your loved one’s favourite company. Kids will particularly enjoy receiving stock in a company that they are familiar with, such as Disney or Apple.
You can jazz up your stock gift with a gift card they can use to shop at the same company – a great way to give for both the future and the present. Purchasing stock for someone can be complicated, so do talk to your investment advisor if you are considering this type of gift.
• Give money, but not in the traditional sense.
If stocks and bonds don’t fit the bill, consider a more tactile gift that will bring immediate pleasure while promoting financial well-being. For the kids in your family, a piggy bank stuffed with loonies and toonies is sure to please and will inspire them to start thinking about saving money.
For the recent college graduate who has left the nest for the first time, book them an appointment with a financial planner and give them enough for their first deposit.
Other ideas are completing a car payment; paying for car insurance for a couple of months; or helping pay down credit card debt. Though perhaps not the most conventional, these gifts are considerate and thoughtful, and sure to provide welcome relief in the coming months.
• Think books and magazines.
For the bookworm on your list, there are tons of useful financial books for kids and adults that will help them discover the value of money. For younger children, a book from a beloved series, such as the Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money, can help them start thinking about responsible money use.
For older kids, try The Everything Kids’ Money Book: Earn it, Save it and Watch it Grow, a great read that provides all the basics about the money kids earn and tips on how they can save or spend it wisely.
Teens and young adults will love the book The Wealthy Barber, a fantastic resource to help them get on a smart financial path as soon as they begin working.
Also consider annual subscriptions to money or business-related magazines. As subscriptions are delivered throughout the year, this is a gift that truly keeps on giving.
• Make it a game.
Interactive board games are a great resource to teach kids about money, but they are also a lot of fun and make for great gifts. Monopoly, for example, is a fantastic game that develops smart financial thinking. With so many different transactions taking place in a single game, it encourages kids to strategically spend or invest their money.
Also, games like Life, Cash Flow for Kids and Thrive Time are great tools for teaching financial literacy. For those kids who aren’t quite old enough to play board games, a role playing toy like a cash register can help start those early conversations about money.
No matter the gifts you place or find under your tree, I wish you and yours a happy and financially sound holiday and New Year!
Kathy McGarrigle is chief operating officer for Coast Capital Savings.