Financial Gifts for the Holidays
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
It's gift-giving season and while you're buying yet another round of sweaters, ties and perfume, your loved ones may be practicing how to act surprised and happy. Why not try gifts that will be appreciated and may even appreciate in value? Here with suggestions for financial goodies for the holiday season is Michelle Singletary. She's our regular personal finance contributor.
MICHELLE SINGLETARY (Personal Finance Contributor): Hi.
BRAND: So what are your favorite gift ideas?
SINGLETARY: I think every child ought to have a piggy bank. Now actually it's kind of hard to find a piggy bank these days, when I actually went out looking for one. But there's one that I love in particular, the Money Savvy Pig. And if you go to moneysavvygeneration.com you can find this pig and it has, you know, several chambers, four chambers; that has save, spend, donate and invest. And it teaches your kid all the important things of saving, not just saving up for that bike but the fact that you should be donating some of the money that Grandma gives you, that you should invest it and help Mommy with your college education, and then maybe spend a little bit for some things that you want now. So definitely a piggy bank.
Listen, budget software is a great gift for a young couple starting out or someone who doesn't know how to handle their finances. I love giving financial planning organizers to help people organize their finances. There's one that I love from Homefile. And, listen, financial magazines--Kiplinger, Money. I mean, there's just, you know--Black Enterprise, all of these magazines that will give people information about their personal finance.
BRAND: Michelle, savings bonds. That used to be the old-fashioned gift from Grandpa that you'd get and kind of groan at and roll your eyes, but are those still good investments?
SINGLETARY: Absolutely. Listen, people have to send their kids to college; people are saving for their homes. I mean, the savings rates are abysmally low. Listen, I Bonds is a great gift to give. And right now through April 2006, I Bonds are paying 6.73 percent. Now I Bonds are basically inflation-adjusted savings bonds and it's an idea so that your money keeps pace with inflation. That's basically what I Bonds are. And it's a great thing to give. You can go to savingsbonds.gov and find out information. You can get an I Bond for $50 in a certificate form or $25 if you get it online. You know, there are lots of folks who are cashing in their bonds that their grandparents gave them who are immensely grateful. They may not have been at the time that they got them, but trust me, they are now.
BRAND: And what about people who donate to charities in your name? Is that a good gift?
SINGLETARY: I think it is. I think it is. And increasingly, charities--in their Web sites that you can go to, and you buy a charity gift certificate and then the person gets to pick which charity they want to put their money in or put the money in, so you buy a $25 charity gift certificate, and the person will go online and pick the charity that they want to give. So instead of just sending a card saying, `Money has been donated to this charity in your name,' you get to pick this, and that's a wonderful idea. In fact, one of our listeners wrote in to me. Amy from Charlottesville suggested this, and I hadn't even thought about that. I always thought about giving in people's name to a charity, but not that you can give a charity gift certificate. Wonderful idea, I think, especially this time when there's so much need out there.
BRAND: Michelle Singletary is DAY TO DAY's regular contributor on personal finance. She also writes The Color of Money column for The Washington Post.
Thank you, Michelle.
SINGLETARY: You're welcome.
BRAND: And if you have personal finance questions for Michelle, just go to the contact page at npr.org. Be sure to include `Michelle' in the subject line.
DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News, with contributions from slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.
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