Whether we are wrapping gifts for others or unwrapping our own presents, we need to stop and consider, “Is this a really good gift?” Next year, let’s purchase “best ever gifts” for everybody age zero to 90.
Zero is the baby shower gift. The absolute best investment is an investment in education so give the mom-to-be cash for the baby’s college education.
Until Age 18. Again education is the best gift. Cash, bonds, money for a 529 plan – these are all great gifts which will last a lifetime. This age group covers the part of life parents and children should understand that college is a privilege. The responsibility for success lies primarily with the child, not the parents. Kids should be inspired both to attend college and to accept part of the burden for their education.
Age 18. The best ever high school graduation present is one hour with a financial advisor. Please understand that a true financial advisor is one who provides advice for a fee, not one who sells financial products and makes a commission on his/her recommendation. How to use a credit card properly is job one for the high school graduate.
Age 22. The best ever college graduation gift, you guessed it, is one hour with a financial advisor. Our graduate should learn that the secret to a successful money life is limited spending with a large chuck of savings. Let’s emphasize the 401(k) and the IRA as well as continued accountability on spending.
Age 25-35. One hour with the financial advisor to understand that Mom and Dad’s retirement trumps little Billy’s education. Both are extremely important but saving for retirement takes top priority.
Middle age. How are we doing in life? Let’s compare income and outgo and savings and investments. Sit down once again with your financial advisor.
Age 55-65. One more hour with that life long friend and advisor. Here we learn that the five years prior to “retirement” and the five years after are the red zone of life. Before retirement, reduce expenditures to a reasonable level; after retirement, make plans for your money to last a lifetime (two if you are married). And, don’t forget, it is time to plan your legacy which consists of material things as well as values.
Age 90. This time the financial advisor pays you to tell him how you have survived this long working within your lifetime budget. And don’t forget to list your other accomplishments.
Is one hour with a financial advisor long enough? If the advisor knows he has one hour, and you come prepared with personal financial data and a list of life and monetary goals, yes.
How much will that hour cost? Financial advisors will charge $75-$150 (and up) for that hour. Is this the best way to spend money on a gift? Absolutely!