Asia Rapier (on the right) is a student at De Paul University who has a student loan. On the left is fellow student, Edward Ward. She talked about the new proposed changes to federal student loan issues proposed by President Obama. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: May 3, 2013 12:15PM
The most delightful part of the holiday season gifting rush is the chance to give meaningful gifts to children and grandchildren. And the Internet makes that easier than ever — if you order now to beat the holiday rush. So here are a few ideas to help you get started on finding a gift that won’t be broken, worn out, or tossed aside within days. Instead, these gifts will continue to give through the financial lessons they teach.
Sesame Street Money Videos
New this year, and at the top of my list, is a new and terrific — and free — program aimed at teaching kids about money. “For Me, for You, for Later: An Early Start to Spending, Sharing and Saving,” was developed by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. PNC Bank is sponsoring the program, offering a free DVD in both English and Spanish. The videos, starring Elmo, can also be accessed at sesamestreet.org/parents/save/foundation.
MoneySavvy Piggy Bank
This is my all-time favorite gift for children starting at age 3, and useful even for pre-teens (for whom you might want to “pre-load” some money!) This four-chambered, see through, plastic piggy bank is clearly marked with four categories: save, spend, donate and invest. It’s a graphic and compelling early lesson about the choices to be made with money. Find them at msgen.com for $16.99. Order the coloring and activity book for an additional $2.75 to complete the gift.
I’m frequently asked about how to buy a few shares of stock for a child or grandchild, without paying more in commission than the value of the shares. So another perennial favorite of mine is Sharebuilder.com, which is designed to allow you to buy just a few shares, or a fixed dollar amount (resulting in less than a full share) for a fee of only $4. You can choose from more than 7,000 stocks or ETFs, and more than 250 no-load mutual funds. Check out the “Gift of Stock,” a special deal for children. The $30 price includes a $50 Sharebuilder gift certificate. You can add to the gift every year. There are no account or investment minimums, and no inactivity fees — making this a gift for potential investors of any age!
It’s easy to start collecting coins. Money.org, the website of the American Numismatic Association, will help you locate reliable member dealers. Or go directly to USMint.gov. You can start with the presidential $1 coins (four are issued each year) and especially interesting to young girls is the First Spouse collection, which comes in expensive half-ounce gold pieces or in less expensive, bronze medallions.
How do you turn spenders into savers? By getting them to keep their money safe! Sometimes a bank account is a bit too abstract, so check out the wide variety of small safes offered on Amazon.com. (Search “kids money safe.”) Most cost under $20, and feature a simple lock that keeps money and other valuables safe from siblings. One version, the Alarmed Money Safe Money Bank by Kidz Labs Spy Science, lets the child “build” the safe and connect it to a “buzz-alarm” circuit.
While you’re at Amazon, check out the “Money Maze Bank Puzzle” for under $10 and the Learning Resources “Cash N’ Carry Wallet” for $7, a kit for keeping money organized.
Any and all of these gifts will get young people off to a good start with money and personal finances — a gift that will serve them well through their entire life. And that’s The Savage Truth.
Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser