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Financial gifts can improve well-being

McLEAN, Va. (11/24/14)--If you really want to give a meaningful holiday gift this year, think beyond traditional items such as clothing and gift cards. A recent survey conducted for Charles Schwab shows that more than half (53%) of those surveyed say cash to help pay off credit card bills would be their top choice as an unexpected holiday gift (USA Today Nov. 12).
A holiday gift to pay down debt can help someone save on interest payments as well as help the recipient feel more financially secure as he or she grapples with debt.
Other financial gifts to consider:
  • Piggy bank. This simple gift can go a long way toward educating even the youngest children about money. They quickly learn the concept of putting coins in the bank, then using the coins to make a purchase later. Buy a cute bank and fill with coins or a few dollars. Some banks electronically add up coins each time a new one is deposited--seeing the amount grow can be motivating to kids. Another idea: Buy a small three-drawer container and set up a drawer each for saving, spending, and sharing;
  • Sessions with a financial adviser. Paying for a sit-down with a financial planner, if only for one or two sessions, can help someone learn personal finance basics and give him or her the groundwork for starting to invest. To locate a fee-only financial planner, visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at;
  • Cash toward a Roth IRA (individual retirement account). "In addition to using cash to pay off credit card debt, another smart way to use holiday gift money is to encourage a working recipient to put the money into a Roth IRA," said Michelle Dosher, managing editor, Credit Union National Association Market Research and Consumer Education. "Roth IRAs can be really beneficial, especially when people start them at a young age," Dosher said;
  • Electronic gadgets. Gadgets such as tablets and smartphones are popular gifts, but you can add a financially savvy twist with personal finance apps, many of which are free or inexpensive. "If you're going to give someone a gadget, also give suggestions of financial apps that could help teach money management skills. Also encourage recipients to download their credit union's mobile banking app," Dosher added. This is a gift that teens and tweens can appreciate as well;
  • Books. Help family members and friends learn to manage money by giving them a book about the topic. One idea is "Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security" by Jean Chatzky. It's an easy read, broken up into sections about making and saving money, spending wisely, and investing;
  • A financial jumpstart. Maybe you know a new grad or someone just getting back on his or her feet. You could help by offering your home as a place to stay for a month or two or by helping to pay a security deposit or first month's rent. This would be a great gift for parents to give young adult children as they learn financial independence; and
  • Credit union membership. Let family members know that because you're a credit union member they can be members. Tell them about the benefits of credit union membership and about the ease of using automatic deposits, payments and transfers, and online and mobile banking.
For related information, read "Holidays are Rich With Teachable Money Moments" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

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