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Holiday gift ideas for yourself and others

Updated: May 3, 2013 12:14PM



Originally published: November 20, 2006

For my Thanksgiving week column this year, you get three columns in one -- a bit of advice on shopping, spending and talking. HOLIDAY GIFTS THAT SAY MONEY. You’re headed out to shop this week, so here are a few gifts that might make sense no matter what the age of the recipient.

For younger children, there’s a new take on an old favorite: the piggybank. In previous years, I’ve written about the plastic, translucent piggy bank that’s divided into four chambers for saving, spending, investing and charity. It’s a great way to teach younger children to set up priorities, and drop coins in each slot to reach different goals.

This year, there are additional teaching banks from the same company in the shape of a cow and a football. Order online at www.msgen.com for $15.95 plus shipping and handling or call (866) 390-5959.

One of my perennial favorite gifts for young teens is the VisaBuxx card, a reloadable debit card that allows teens and parents to track spending instantly online. It’s easy to reload an allowance, and the card can be used at any Visa location for shopping or to withdraw cash. For information go to www.Visa Buxx.com.

For market watchers, the 2007 edition of the Stock Trader’s Almanac is a terrific gift, filled with historical facts and trends. It’s available online at www.StockTradersAlmanac.com for $34.95.

And new this year: the Commodity Trader’s Almanac at the same price. It’s filled with seasonal trends, historic statistics and contract specifications for everything from soybeans to sugar to crude oil. The perfect gift for futures traders.

GIFTS THAT READ MONEY. I’m recommending two new books that will help you start the most difficult conversation of your life.

The Parent Care Conversation by Dan Taylor (Penguin paperback, $14) provides strategies for discussing the important issues faced by families with aging parents. Whether it’s a strictly financial talk about how they’re managing their money today or a more challenging topic, such as their wishes for distributing property and the family home, this book will tell you how to broach the subject and work your way through to a conclusion that leaves everyone with pride intact.

Thanksgiving weekend or the coming holidays are the perfect time to start this process. If you can’t bring yourself to have a sensible discussion that leads to a written plan, then you definitely will make use of the second book I am recommending: The Family War: Winning the Inheritance Battle, co-written by Les Kotzer. His previous book, The Family Fight: How to Avoid It, was recommended in this space a couple of years ago. Kotzer’s latest book brings home the realities of what happens when families fail to plan while the parents are alive. Whether a will is contested out of principle or out of greed, the consequences are costly in terms of money and estrangement.

Kotzer and his co-authors are estate planners who have seen what happens when plans are improperly written. Parents might have seen a division of assets as “fair,” but beneficiaries don’t agree. Parents might have thought their offspring could “share” the vacation home, but those same kids couldn’t share toys half a lifetime ago.

Whether you’re the second spouse or the child of the first marriage or the one named as executor, you’ll want to know how to win The Family War. Kotzer offers a special deal, The Family War, plus a free copy of The Family Fight (they’re easily readable paperbacks) for $39.99 including shipping if you order before Christmas by calling (877) 439-3999 or go to www.TheFamilyWar.com.

GIFTS THAT ADVISE SAVING. Finally, give yourself the most important gift this Christmas season, the gift of arriving in January without any new bills.

Make your gift list, and then send everyone on it a holiday card announcing your spending vow. On your card include a promise to do one good deed for that person in the coming three months. Consider offers to baby-sit, cook, clean or simply to act as chauffeur for a day. The sentiment will be appreciated as much as another pair of gloves.

Enough said. And that’s The Savage Truth.

Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser.



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