Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Happy Birthday, Young Fool!


So, what are you getting your kid for his birthday this year? When the grandparents call up and ask what Precious wants on that day of days, what are you going to say? Furby? Barbie? Educational Whackablaster Whompnumbers Nine Zillion (guaranteed to qualify your child for admission to the Ivy League of your choice)?

If your child is like mine, you're already up to your neck in whatever toys you've been willing to authorize, and maybe a few that you weren't. Even regular trips to the local charity with bags of toys can't keep the numbers under control in my house, in spite of a toy-buying policy that makes Scrooge look like a softie. I hate telling the relatives to buy one more toy (even a book) that I know we don't need and won't miss, and the "Mom" solution of charitable donation doesn't work for a child.

But this year, I may have an answer.

My soon-to-be six-year-old likes to follow the daily ups and downs of the Dow Jones when we listen to the radio in the car. He is acquiring a financial education by asking what we're doing when he sees his parents tracking stocks via the Internet. And he's passionately fond of the products of a locally based company with a good, solid stock.

I think I'll buy him a share. I think I'll encourage the relatives to follow suit with the company of their choice. I'll explain to my son what a share of stock is, and why I picked this company.

He's always asking how things work anyway. Give him some stock, and an available adult to answer his questions, and by the time he's 10 he'll be able to read a balance sheet. He'll learn to reinvest dividends, and to figure the value of a stock, and lots of other good stuff. By the time he goes to college, he'll be able to decide for himself which part of his portfolio to liquidate to pay his tuition.

But that's mostly long term. For now, the simple chance to be "grownup" (dare I say Foolish?) will be a super gift in his eyes, and we'll never have to tell him to "pick up your stock and put it away, it's bedtime!"

So, what are you getting your kid for his birthday this year?

[Introduce your young Fool to the investing by sending them to our Young Fool's area designed especially for them!]

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