The Best Christmas Present You Can Buy

It's fair to guess that since you're on this website, you already know that buying stock in the world's greatest businesses is the best way to build the type of wealth that lasts generations. That much is obvious.

But what of your loved ones? Do they know that this is the right route to take, too?

It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's definitely that time of year again when we waste money, frivolously buying stuff for other people, simply because we know we're supposed to, without really thinking about that underlying value destruction. Economists actually call the holiday season a "deadweight loss" because of the massive misallocation of resources that occurs when we give someone a gift they don't really need or want.

Sweaters, DVDs, and premium bubble baths are all overwhelmingly likely to end up in the back of the closet, the waste bin or under someone else's tree -- unused and underappreciated. It's kind of the stupidest thing we do.

What's your point?
I adore Christmas, but I hate wasting stuff. Thus, my gifts tend to fall into one of two, very different camps: the highly unnecessary but highly desirable experiential gifts that people really enjoy, or the highly necessary but highly valued gifts that people really appreciate. I hate that inefficient zone in between, where people just accumulate junk they neither need nor want.

When it comes to the latter type of gift, I never skip over the financial part of people's lives, perhaps because I'm such a Fool. We all have friends and family who are otherwise completely functional individuals, but who haven't got the first clue when it comes to extracting value out of the stock market. You know the ones. Their eyes glaze over when you start talking about how you're curious whether that new, hot clothing label is a public company. Frankly, I feel bad for them.

An insurmountable challenge
Despite our best efforts, many of us have failed to effectively educate our loved ones. And unfortunately, market ignorance knows no boundaries. Young or old, rich or poor, vegan or carnivore -- all are equally affected.

For whatever reason, the barriers inherent in filling out an application for a brokerage account and reading a few basic investing books are prohibitively large. In the best of cases, folks load up their 401(k)s and IRAs with mediocre mutual funds that eat away at their money like a powerful cancer. In the worst of cases, we hear horror stories of people walking around with no equity to speak of, and a checking account with $50,000 in it, earning 0.2%. Either way, it's terrible to watch. That's why we're putting a stop to it.

Together with ING's (NYSE: ING  ) Sharebuilder, The Motley Fool and I have teamed up to fight this problem and help our members help those dearest to them. We've taken a somewhat complex, somewhat intimidating process and made it so simple that we think our grandmothers and grandchildren alike could do it -- and that's precisely who we hope do take advantage.

The best present
We call our offering "The Gift of Stock." With it, our members are giving their loved ones the opportunity to capitalize on the most powerful wealth-building machine ever known to man: the stock market. Our belief is that if we can just get people into the market, get one tiny foot in the door, most of the important work is done. Taking that first step is so critical, though.

The Gift of Stock is designed to address the two fundamental problems associated with rookie investors:

  1. Getting the account opened.
  2. Knowing what stocks to buy when you do.

ING/Sharebuilder takes care of the first part by offering a customized welcome process into their full-featured brokerage platform. The Fool takes cares of the second by offering up a complete DVD course led by co-founder and CEO Tom Gardner, who explains how he indentifies the best stocks.

Learning with the Fool
In all market environments, it's crucial that investors learn how to select appropriate investments. That's why, for rookies, Tom stays simple. He focuses on how one need only look around to find great investment opportunities such as Costco -- phenomenal businesses operating within the confines of our everyday lives.

Tom also challenges new investors to park their money in the people they believe in most. Wall Street would never teach you this, but for Fools, it's not particularly difficult to find great corporate leaders like John Mackey at Whole Foods or Reed Hastings at Netflix. These people are doing incredible things at their businesses, and hugely rewarding shareholders in the process. And their companies are precisely the type of uncomplicated, intuitive investments that make sense for investors of all types -- particularly the new ones.

A Foolish deal
Because it's a Motley Fool co-offering, you know that there are some compelling economics involved. ING is selling this life-enhancing gift for $45. For that price, new investors get access to Sharebuilder's robust brokerage platform, a $50 credit in their account, five free trading credits, the aforementioned DVD course, plus a bunch of other stuff.

As far as useful and intelligent gifts go, this one has got to be pretty high up there. So if you're interested in taking a closer look at The Gift of Stock, click right here to get to the site.

Beyond the kit itself, I just hope Fools are thinking smart about how they allocate their precious recourses this holiday season. There's no shortage of stuff out there to buy for our loved ones. But how many gifts really can help people create value? I know of no other gift out there that can set someone in the right direction for life like getting someone into the stock market today.

Fool Nick Kapur wishes everyone a merry Christmas. He doesn't own shares of any company mentioned above.  

Costco, Netflix, and Whole Foods Market are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Costco, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2010, at 4:30 PM, JCamp5 wrote:

    Great idea. This will be perfect for my 16 year old son who is becoming interested in stocks.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2010, at 10:54 PM, Bobjitsu wrote:

    I might do this for my son but he turns 18 in April and I'll have him sign up then so we don't have the confusion of changing a custodial account over in a few months...

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2010, at 11:11 PM, manfromborneo wrote:

    Does this gift apply outside of the US? I am thinking of giving this to my brother in New Zealand.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2010, at 11:21 PM, cellularesque wrote:

    Neat idea. It would be REALLY cool if this offer could be used to open a Roth IRA, since most of the young people I know who aren't in the market right now would probably benefit much more form starting a Roth IRA than a general investment account.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2010, at 11:27 AM, DaveGruska wrote:

    I don't get the attraction to ShareBuilder. Maybe I'm misunderstanding how it works, but it looks like you have to pay $4 for each trade. This would be a good deal if you planned on putting a lot amount of money in each time, but it doesn't make much sense if you just want to put $100 or so each month.

    I don't think there's a lower-cost solution to dollar-cost averaging into individual stocks, though, besides perhaps some larger company's direct investment programs.

  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2010, at 2:52 PM, Ingalls2001 wrote:

    You can actually set the number of times your trades occur. Weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc...if you can convince someone to chip 100 dollars a month into their account and choose a quarterly automatic purchase...the 4 dollar fee comes pretty close to the 1% target on fee structure.

    I have made this suggestion to my youngest brother-in-law...he has yet to drop the hammer. If he can invest $1200 into one stock in a year at a fee cost of $16.00, then switch to another stock the next year...anything is better than nothing.

    With more age comes more discipline (hopefully)...making one $1200 trade a year with another online broker might get you $9.95 for the fee, but doesn't let you see any "fruit" or "action" on your money. With youth, action helps.

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