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Trying to figure out what to give your loved ones for the holidays this year? Skip the scarves and bath sets. (These are the kinds of things that are often either re-gifted or go unused, anyway.) If you’re money-minded like me, you’ll want something that pays dividends. While it may not provide immediate gratification or be as flashy, the long-term rewards could be potentially far greater.
Here are some ways you can give the gift of investing for the holidays:
Purchase a Gift Card
You can buy gift cards for your loved ones to bolster their stock portfolio. For example, Wealthsimple recently launched a gift card that’s available in amounts starting at $50. And with Stockpile, you have the option to load an e-gift card in any amount for a fashion or gaming stock or perhaps for a major company’s stock. Your giftee will then be able to invest in fractional shares of individual stocks, exchange-traded funds (pools of funds known as ETFs that follow a stock index) and American depositary receipts.
You can also purchase a Stockpile gift card either at a participating brick-and-mortar retailer. Physical gift cards are available in denominations of $25, $50 and $100. While you don’t need a Stockpile brokerage account to purchase a gift card, you’ll need one to deposit the gift card.
As far as fees for Stockpile go, if you’re purchasing an e-card, there’s a $1.99 fee for denominations under $100. For amounts over $100, there’s a 3% fee tacked on. For physical cards, depending on the amount of the card, fees range from $4.95 to $7.95.
Another company similar to Stockpile is GiveAshare, where you can give a share of a single stock. You can choose from over 100 major companies and can search by price or industry. Note that GiveAshare charges a hefty $39 fee to gift a stock.
Purchase a Treasury Bond
While this may feel old-school, you can purchase a treasury bond for those near and dear to you this holiday season. U.S. Treasury bonds are bought at a discounted rate and accrue monthly interest. They take at least 10 years to mature, and any income received from them are taxed only at the federal level. Since you can’t buy a treasury bond through a bank anymore, you’d have to purchase it through a TreasuryDirect account.
Besides treasury bonds, you can also purchase a treasury note or treasury bill. Note that whereas a treasury bond takes at least a decade to mature, a treasury bill takes up to a year, while a treasury note takes anywhere from two to 10 years.
Open a Custodial Account
If you want to help a young one in your life get a jump on investing, consider opening a custodial account for them. You can do so if you have an account through a major online brokerage. Through a custodial account, you can buy and sell shares of stocks on behalf of a minor.
“If you’re picking investments for someone, it’s important to remember how age affects your investment decisions,” says Joseph Hogue, a chartered financial analyst and investment expert at My Stock Market Basics. If your recipient has more than 20 years until retirement or really needs the money, stocks are a good choice. Otherwise, consider investing in a bond fund for better protection.
You can also use it as an opportunity to spend time with the young person in your life to teach them investment basics, such as how the stock market works and how an investment can grow over time. Spending just a few minutes at a time could really help someone learn something that could help them for years to come.
Consider a Book on Investing
What’s better than giving someone a fish? Teaching them to fish! Consider giving the gift of a book on investment basics. Some popular ones include the classic “Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham as well as John Bogle’s “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.” One of my personal favorites is William Bernstein’s “If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly.”
If you have time, consider reading an investment book together. That way, you can learn about the nuts and bolts of investment principles together. Plus, it’ll make for a fun bonding experience.
Contribute to a 529 Fund
To help a child in your family save for college, consider opening a college savings account such as a 529 plan fund. Contributions made to a 529 fund can be used toward higher education expenses, such as tuition and books. The beauty of a 529 plan is that anyone can open one and anyone can make contributions. That’s right – friends, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc., can open an account for a young person or contribute to one that someone else opened.
There are also tax benefits that come with contributions made to a 529 plan. Contributions grow tax-free at the federal level, and depending on which state you live in, you might be able to receive tax credits or deductions. Besides a 529 fund, there’s also a Coverdell education savings account (ESA), which can go toward educational expenses at the K-12 level. Like 529 plans, Coverdell ESAs also grow tax-free.
While it may not seem as fancy as some VR goggles or a lavish winter getaway, presenting someone with the gift of investing this holiday season can help set them up for long-term financial success. So instead of dropping money on something that might just be thrown away or offer momentary happiness, why not help your friend or loved one grow their money instead?
Note: As always with investing, there’s a level of risk involved, and stocks may lose value. If you have questions about investing, it’s best to talk to a financial professional who can help you determine the right course of action.
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