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5 Great Gifts That Keep on Giving

For a myriad of gift-giving occasions -- weddings, graduations, births, "29 again" birthdays -- a check is always appreciated. But if you want your money to have a lasting impact, there are a whole host of options you may not have considered. Here are a few ideas for presents that will continue to reward their recipients long into the future.

1. A plan for life. Few traditional gifts can pack a punch like the gift of time with a fee-only advisor. Whether it's a young person about to collect her first real paycheck, or newlyweds who will share finances for the first time, a fee-only planner can help them set goals, establish a budget, and get on the fast track to save for retirement.

Don't know where to find a fee-only advisor in your gift recipient's area? Check out the Find a Planner section of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) website. NAPFA-registered advisors must adhere to a stringent code of ethics and accept fee-only compensation (as opposed to collecting fees contingent on the sale of a financial product or service). The Garrett Planning Network is another resource for finding independent financial advisors who offer as-needed financial planning services with no minimum income or asset requirements.

2. A leg-up on saving for retirement. It may seem a bit extreme to help a twentysomething to plan for his retirement, but you'll be doing him a favor. Getting in the habit of socking money away from the first paycheck onward is invaluable. If you can swing it, offer to match your gift recipient's contributions to an IRA, anywhere up to the annual limit of $4,000. In addition to retirement, IRAs can be used for other things, including a first-time home purchase.

3. An ongoing financial education. We've all heard that couples fight more about money than anything else. Want to help your newly minted lovebirds communicate positively about money? Give them The Motley Fool's Guide to Couples and Cash, filled with practical suggestions for melding money-management styles and negotiating conflict. Follow it up by emailing a link to the Fool's free "How-To Guide: Manage Money With Your Mate."

4. A look ahead to post-graduate education. Does your gift recipient plan on furthering her education? If she has a Coverdell education savings account or a 529 savings plan, you can make a contribution that will help her reach her goal. You'll need to find out whether she has an account; if so, coordinate with the family to ensure that all guidelines regarding limits and such are met. (See our "60-Second Guide to College Savings Strategies" for more.)

5. A gift that keeps giving. Find a creative way to help your favorite young person pay down their debt. Credit cards like Upromise don't just offer rebates that can be funneled into college savings these days. Upromise's Loan Link Program allows you to use a portion of your everyday spending to help a college graduate you know pay down his Sallie Mae student loans. BabyMint, another option, will help pay off loans serviced by Collegiate Funding.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (2)

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 July 31, 2008, at 5:01 PM, trgeorge wrote:

    Wow, I've always dreamed of someone giving me a consultation with a fee-only advisor for my birthday. Maybe one day..

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2008, at 9:09 AM, FreshmanFund wrote:

    I wanted to introduce you to Freshman Fund ( Freshman Fund is like a registry for college savings. Parents go to the site, attach their 529, create a public profile and email friends and family a link where they can contribute directly into the child’s 529 account in lieu of or in addition to the usual birthday/holiday gifts. Great for parents and great for gift givers and it’s environmentally friendly gifting.

    I was at my niece’s birthday party watching her tear through a pile of gifts taller than she was. At the end of the melee my gift was tossed aside into a pile of other forgotten gifts. I spent a-lot of time and money selecting her gift and I though it was a waste. I told her parents that from now on I was just going to contribute to her college savings. I asked them what website to go to in order to that and none existed. So I started Freshman Fund (

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