On this week's special Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner brings in a host of special guests to dispense some of their favorite advice, tips, and practices around the gift-giving season. First up, a panel of three Foolish men; next, a trio of Foolish women, and lastly, one Foolish financial planner to discuss financial gifts. And to top it all off, he shares some gift ideas of his own: five great board games that can bring family and friends together at the holidays, or any time.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Dec. 13, 2017.
David Gardner: Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. We're publishing this Wednesday, Dec. 13. As always, though, we've taped the day before. That's part of our magic here. We tape on Tuesdays, publish on Wednesdays. That way my talented producer, Rick Engdahl, can get rid of all the gaps and mistakes that I make from one week to the next.
In fact, I want to call out a fun tweet from Paul Essen, @Paul_Essen. I know Paul. He's one of our employees. But here was his tweet in the past week, speaking of me making mistakes. He said, "At RBI Podcast, given how precise he normally is with words, I was surprised to hear DavidGFool suffer from RAS Syndrome in the latest episode and say 'ATM Machine.' I guess that's just my own personal pet peeve?"
I have to briefly share the humor on this. I did not know what RAS Syndrome is. It is a Wikipedia entry. You can read more about it. But it stands for "Redundant Acronym Syndrome" Syndrome. In fact, part of the humor of our RAS Syndrome is it's having fun with itself by itself being a violator of what it's trying to point out. Rick, darn it! You didn't edit this last week. I think I did say "ATM machine" when we all know ATM stands for "automated teller machine." That was an RAS Syndrome error on my part.
Now, Rick, you know I'm never going to blame you, anyway, but I'm used to making a lot of mistakes. So yes, that's why we, in part, tape on Tuesdays and publish on Wednesdays, but sometimes even on Thursdays I read about how I blew it. But I like to know that I blew it because that helps me, I hope, get better. Thank you, Paul Essen! My good friend CMFHuibs, Jim Huibregtse, said on Twitter, "I forgot my PIN number at the ATM machine." And Jim, I get it. I like it.
This is a podcast you should have been looking forward to, but how could you have when I didn't really talk much about it in advance, but it's our Motley Fool Rule Breakers Investing Gift-Giving Special. That's right. In this season of giving, I'm here to try to help you out a little bit, this week, think about how to give gifts. The best types of gifts to give. Maybe a creative spark for you.
And because I'm not full of great ideas like this myself -- I think of myself as kind of a mediocre gift-giver -- I decided, "Why not have a couple of panels of Fools? Why not have three Foolish men in, then three Foolish women in, and then one Foolish financial planner to talk about financial gifts? Why not do that all in one podcast tied up with a bow?" And so that's what we've done.
We flipped a coin. The men are up first. I'll shortly be welcoming in Chris Hill and Robert Brokamp. If you're a Motley Fool podcast listener you probably know those two names. And my brother, Tom Gardner, our CEO, and then I'll have three Foolish women and a great Foolish financial planner. I will close this week with my top five board-game ideas because -- I think you know this -- I love strategy board games. How could I not share a few game ideas? But for the most part what we're doing this week is not giving you the hot gift, or what you need to put under their tree for somebody else. More about how to think about giving and how to improve your own giving, even if it's last minute. That's what we're doing this week, and without further ado let's get started.
And now I'm really excited to start our Foolish Men's Gift-Giving Panel. I am going to briefly introduce this illustrious threesome that I have here around the table: my brother, Tom Gardner, the CEO of our company; Robert Brokamp, Rule Your Retirement advisor and Motley Fool Answers podcaster; and Chris Hill, Market Foolery, Motley Fool Money, Motley Fool podcasts writ large. Lots of other things, too. I think each of you is pretty familiar to any Motley Fool longtime fan, especially a podcast listener or somebody who comes to our Member Events. Or just buys from our company. We hope you know the brothers Gardner who are here at the microphone.
I want to start with one of the most generous people that I know, and that's my brother Tom Gardner. I'm not going to embarrass him or go through a lengthy list of how generous he is with so many people around him, but he is. Take it on my word. Tom, I just wanted to start by asking you. I'm listening to this podcast. It's Rule Breaker Investing. It's our Gift-Giving Special. You've got an insight or two for me to help me think a little smarter about giving in the next few weeks, if you will, because that's on everybody's mind, but maybe just the next few years. How do you think about giving?
Tom Gardner: Well, thank you for those kind words. I think of you as an extremely generous person, as do I think of Chris and Robert that way, as well.
David Gardner: You really do think Chris is that way? I mean, I think we can agree that Robert...
Chris Hill: I mean, Robert, yes.
Tom Gardner: I think David is very generous with his sarcasm.
David Gardner: Sarcasm is the wit of fools.
Tom Gardner: I think the first principle of gift-giving at this point in human history is to do so without ever having to go outside. Just hang there at your computer and get it all done...
David Gardner: Click. Click.
Tom Gardner: Why get out there? Why go outside anymore? Why do that? No. 2, I favor the Amazon Gift Card. I have a principle that I'm leading to, and I'll do it quickly...
David Gardner: Awesome.
Tom Gardner: ... but I favor the Amazon Gift Card because I think across all the gifts that I've been given in my life, which have been wonderfully thoughtful and generous, probably half of them have hit home for me. That means half are things that sat in closets or I had to figure out what to do with.
And the Amazon Gift Card, with even some recommendations. I think maybe the electric toothbrush would be great for you, XYZ person, but you choose what you actually need because I don't even know if you have an electric toothbrush, and why give you one if you already have one? I don't even know.
So I sit at home with the Amazon Gift Card. It seems like it's not a loving move, but I do believe in it. But beyond that, my real principle and the principle that we were taught by our parents was to really give the gift of experience and learning, and something that creates a memory rather than a thing that usually has depreciating utility in life, versus that memory that lives on forever. So taking the time to think through what experience you want for your friends and family to have that you're giving gifts to.
David Gardner: Excellent, since I insulted him, and it was totally unfair. I mean, I love the guy! Chris Hill, you have to go next. You're a very generous person. You're generous with your time to join us today -- on short notice, no less. Chris, help us! Add to the conversation. I hear Tom. A worry I might have is I'm going to now get 10 different Amazon Gift Cards. I'm going to be overwhelmed with just Amazon Gift Cards and I'm not even sure that's a bad thing.
Tom Gardner: That is not a worry that I have, if anybody's wondering.
David Gardner: How does Chris Hill approach the giving season?
Hill: Ironically, one of the ways I approach it is in direct conflict with something Tom said, which is...
Tom Gardner: Beautiful.
Hill: ... I actually do like to walk the streets of Old Town and go in and out of shops. Usually the week before Christmas I will just turn off my phone, put some music in my earbuds, and just walk down King Street in Old Town, just going in and out of shops. That, for me, is a just a way to open myself to discovery. Usually of stocking stuffers.
Tom Gardner: Is there a particular day that you do that each year? Like, do you know when you'll be doing that? Because there are so many Chris Hill fans that listen to this podcast. If they know Dec. 22 you're walking Old Town...
David Gardner: Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.
Hill: It's usually Christmas Eve. It's usually the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
David Gardner: Is that true? That sounds...
Hill: It is, yeah.
David Gardner: That sounds possibly desperate, Chris. I know it's not, but isn't that...
Hill: It started out of desperation.
Tom Gardner: Are you somebody who enjoys photographs and signing autographs while you're walking Old Town?
Hill: It's never been an issue for me. I can't speak to that experience.
David Gardner: No, but that's great.
Hill: So that's the personal...
David Gardner: You're getting good deals, I guess. Because it's the 24th? Does that matter?
Hill: Sometimes, but usually I'm just looking for the unexpected. I'm just opening myself up to the possibility of being struck by something and saying, "Oh! One of my kids might like that or my wife might like that." That sort of thing.
David Gardner: All right. That's No. 1.
Hill: That's No. 1. No. 2 is every year I try and find one or two gifts -- I don't always succeed for everyone in my family -- but I try and find one or two gifts that are geared completely around humor. There is a family joke that we have. There is something funny that has happened recently. So, finding a stocking stuffer.
For several years my wife -- and it's OK. I can talk about her because she doesn't listen to this podcast. She burned a few oven mitts. She'd be just cooking something and maybe leave it on the stove. That kind of thing. It just became this running joke that at Christmas there would always be a brand new oven mitt, because we knew that at some point in the next 12 months one was going to burn. But anything that can tie into humor. Anything where I know when this person opens this gift, the gift is almost beside the point. It's really just about having a great laugh on Christmas morning.
David Gardner: That is awesome. Robert Brokamp, you've distinguished yourself in our office in years past with the Christmas Mix Tape.
Robert Brokamp: It's true.
David Gardner: I know you don't maybe do that as much anymore because it's not as much a tape or even a CD these days, but before I introduce you with a couple of thoughts from you, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Market Foolery bonus episode that Chris and Robert created together with the help of...
Hill: Bill Barker. Bill Barker down at Motley Fool Asset Management.
David Gardner: ... the inimitable Bill Barker. That was a tremendous hour and five minutes or so, that...
Brokamp: It was!
David Gardner: ... that was unexpected. You guys, I think, did it last week. But anybody who's a Market Foolery fan, if you didn't hear that bonus episode, check it out. What was the title?
Hill: The title was "Apropos of Nothing 2..."
David Gardner: Yes. Yes. And I enjoyed one.
Hill: ... The Holiday Edition.
David Gardner: The Holiday Edition. So anyway, outstanding. Robert, some thoughts.
Brokamp: First of all, I try to stay on the lookout for gifts yearlong for Christmas and birthday. And I have an Evernote folder -- it's a cloud-based file system -- that I write down ideas. And if I'm ever out with someone, and they're shopping, and they pick up something, and they clearly like it, I surreptitiously take a picture of it and put it in that folder.
For example, for my wife's birthday in October she got something that she saw over the summer when we were on vacation. That's one way that I keep track of ideas as people come across, because otherwise I'll never remember them.
David Gardner: That is outstanding. And Robert, let me ask. By the time we reach, let's say, Dec. 1 for the calendar year, how full or not will that Evernote -- what does that look like?
Brokamp: Oh, it's huge. It's huge.
David Gardner: Like how much stuff? Anybody.
Brokamp: Because it's all kinds of things.
David Gardner: Is it like 75 items, 22 items?
Brokamp: It's certainly more than 50 at this point. By the end of Christmas, I have to cull through it, because I have ideas from years ago for my kids and they've sort of outgrown them.
David Gardner: So basically, be thinking about gifts all the time.
Brokamp: Right. And even now when you're shopping. Like I bought something for my wife that she saw on Black Friday. She's looking at it. I take a picture, just so I remember it, and I came back later and got it.
Tom Gardner: Do you think she knows?
David Gardner: I was wondering.
Tom Gardner: Oh, oh! Look at the cellphone 10. Look at this iPhone 10. Just take a picture of that. If not, I hope Elizabeth is listening right now.
Brokamp: As you may all know, one concern with the phone generation is that we're all looking down and people are recommending that you hold your phone up to look at it. So she thinks I'm probably just looking at my phone.
Tom Gardner: You're filming a lot of people when you're out and about.
Brokamp: Well, see, I've had that, too. People think I'm taking pictures of them. It's only you that I'm taking pictures of.
David Gardner: Because he's going to be a gift one day, for somebody that you know.
Brokamp: That's exactly...
David Gardner: That's foresight.
Tom Gardner: That's a great approach, Robert. Really!
Brokamp: And the other thing I do is I do like online. I love Amazon, but I also love more offbeat sites, like UncommonGoods, Etsy, and ThinkGeek. I go to those sites and find something that I know that they'd like. And then all these sites will also give recommendations based on that. It's scroll down, and it's basically "if you like this, you'll also like these things." I scroll through those for new ideas.
David Gardner: This is horrible. I almost have to whisk this team off the stage, because I have my Foolish Women's Gift-Giving Panel.
Tom Gardner: Can I ask one question?
David Gardner: You, sure... I mean, you just did.
Tom Gardner: One more? I just did again!
David Gardner: Is it a quick one?
Tom Gardner: Um, it's pretty quick.
David Gardner: Go!
Tom Gardner: Do you ever negotiate when you're out there? There was somebody in the Motley Fool community years ago, I read, and he was always like, "Oh! You want 50 bucks for that? I'll give you 40." And he says one out three times that he's walking out of the store they're like, "Bup! How about 45?" Have you ever negotiated when you're out there?
Brokamp: My wife and I paid for our wedding and we were strapped for cash back in those young days, so I tried it a few times and it never worked.
Tom Gardner: It never worked. OK, good.
David Gardner: Here's my final question for you each. If it's the last minute -- because some of our Rule Breaker Investing podcast listeners make last-minute decisions or have last-minute needs. All of a sudden they're like, "Oh my gosh. I don't have something for Blank." Do you have a particular approach that you might take, or a tip for me, as a last-minute shopper? Right away I see Chris Hill already nodding his head. Chris?
Hill: I have absolutely been in this position, and my approach is to fully embrace the amount of money I'm going to pay in shipping. I don't even think twice about it. It's like, "OK. That's how much it costs to get it here by the day I need it. Fine. I am all in. I have to get this done." I don't even think twice about it.
David Gardner: So just don't worry about the shipping.
Hill: Just embrace. That is the price that I pay for waiting until the last minute.
Tom Gardner: Are you an Amazon shareholder when you say that?
Hill: Yes, I am.
Tom Gardner: OK, good. I wanted to know that.
Brokamp: I fall back on experiences. Get tickets to a play or something. Go to Groupon. Look for what's on sale, buy it, print it out.
Tom Gardner: I would say even if it's not completely sincere, a deeply emotional phone call with that person.
Brokamp: Do you write a coupon for that?
David Gardner: Christmas Day.
Tom Gardner: Yeah.
David Gardner: Just what people are waiting for.
Tom Gardner: Show as much as you can care, and then come a week later with something.
David Gardner: Well, as we said earlier, sarcasm is the wit of fools, but I never know when he's being sarcastic, really. All right, that was a lot of fun. Thank you, gentlemen. I really appreciate your time.
Tom Gardner: Expect your deeply emotional phone call from me.
David Gardner: And now it's my delight to welcome the Foolish Women's Gift-Giving Panel to this podcast. Maybe this should be an annual tradition. We'll find out later from our listeners whether they valued our advice. I'm really delighted to be joined by Cheryl Palting, who is our director of Foolish impressions. Lysha Fuentes. And Lysha, you're an events and ops coordinator here at The Motley Fool. And finally, Melissa Malinowski, and Melissa, you are a global project manager for Motley Fool Global. I like the redundancy.
But each of you, beyond your official-seeming job titles here at The Motley Fool, is a wonderful Foolish friend and somebody who is called out by her peers as someone who's good at gift-giving. So I just sent the word out. I was like, "Who's good in this office...?" And so those were our men and these are our women, and it's a delight.
And since I introduced you in this order, Cheryl, let me start with you. Help us out here. Again, I am somebody who is listening to this podcast. Normally we're talking stocks, but since it's the giving time of year, I'm looking for a couple of insights. Maybe some way to be more creative or more efficient. Cheryl, give us one or two tips about gift-giving.
Cheryl Palting: Yes. Here at The Motley Fool we help the world invest better, and sometimes people can think we focus a lot on money, but I think gift-giving doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. For the budget-conscious friends or family members in your life, I encourage people to get really creative and think about your own talents, whether that's an ability to create a card from scratch and write a handwritten note. Whether you can sing really well, or dance really well. I've had friends who say, "I'm on a budget this year. I'm not doing presents or material gifts, so don't get me anything."
But at the end of the day we ended up just planning a listening party to all of our favorite songs, so everyone brought their own Spotify playlist of all of the songs that either they really love, or they have memories associated with other people in the group, and we just had fun listening to songs and reminiscing about the previous year.
Gardner: And something that everybody will remember. More than one year later.
Palting: And it was free. I mean, even if you don't pay for Spotify on the premium side, you can still access the songs. And I am not a Spotify shareholder, but I feel like I should be.
Gardner: And you can't be quite yet, although in 2018 if you're looking for a gift, Cheryl, I could give you the gift of the possible Spotify IPO. Now, I'm not going to necessarily give you a share...
Palting: Hey, now...
Gardner: Because I'm not sure how much it would be, and I'm not sure Spotify is going to be a great investment. We'll see. Pandora, one of my stock picks, has not been a great investment, but there's a little bit on Spotify. So that's a wonderful starting thought. Do you have a second complementary thought or a different thought?
Palting: Yes. So, going back to this group of friends idea, where you just have a lot of people that you have to give gifts to. It can get expensive and it can take a lot of time. And a lot of times, friends don't want to make those decisions, or they're having trouble getting something. I mean, it's pretty common to hear someone ask another person, "What do I get this person? I have to get them a gift."
For me, you don't have to. I think if you're open and honest with your big group of friends, or even a smaller group of friends, and say, "Hey, guys. Let's just hang out together. Let's plan something." If everyone is a fan of baking, or eating baked goods, everyone gets together for one night and bakes something.
Gardner: Or eat baked goods.
Palting: Yes. And this can be your gift. There's so much pressure to buy something in this day and age, but I think there's a lot of value in just spending time with people and being open, knowing that sometimes money isn't necessarily the thing you have to spend, but it's just time.
Gardner: Awesome. Thank you, Cheryl. Lysha?
Lysha Fuentes: Yes, I have two tips I will go over. Based off what Cheryl said inspired another one, so we'll see what happens. The first one is I'm always a fan of taking notes of things that I hear as the year goes on. My husband is really good at this as well. For example, I think it was a year or so, ago, Lady Gaga performed at the Super Bowl. I used to dance and I'm a big fan of good performers like Bruno Mars. Lady Gaga is also one. So I was rocking out in front of the TV. A few months later for my birthday he bought me Lady Gaga tickets. Not once did I ever say I want to see her in concert, but he made note that I was a fan of her performance.
Similarly, I watch cook shows with my little sister who loves to cook. I can't remember who she was watching one time, but she was like, "Oh, I really want a cast-iron skillet, so I can make that." Never put it on her list, but this year I got her a cast-iron skillet because I made note of it.
Now, it does take a little bit more work. You do have to take out your smartphone. Maybe make a little note section in your phone and say, "OK, this is what so-and-so said." But it definitely delivers that wow factor, because when they forget about that gift and you bring it back, not only are they excited about it, but it does show that you listened to them and you took in what they were saying.
Gardner: I love it.
Fuentes: My next tip is my daughter was born almost two years ago, and having a child I realized you get so much junk. And they might love it for two seconds, but my tip is everything is cuter when it's small and fluffy, yes, but this is a phenomenal phase in their life because they can get two things and be amazed by it or a hundred things and be amazed by it. They don't know the difference between the numbers, so I would say, if I'm blunt, be cheap these few years while you can. While they don't know what they're going to get, give them a few things. They don't need the name brands. Just get them something that they can enjoy and maybe something that's actually practical. I always ask for things that help with their development. Something that's a fun toy, but actually helps them grow as well. Again, you don't need the stuffed animals for your little Tommy who's super cute but will only play with it for maybe two weeks.
Gardner: Especially if he has 12 others, right? That's part of it.
Fuentes: Absolutely. And it causes more clutter in your home.
Gardner: Lysha, you brought your two. You also said Cheryl inspired you.
Fuentes: She did. She mentioned the idea of giving time, and something that I struggle with every year is I have a large family, plus now that I'm married, my husband has a large family. My gift-giving list is getting really large and getting really expensive. One thing my family did one year was rather than buying each other gifts, we all paid for ourselves to go on a family trip. And that was a really fun experience. So if you don't want to go through a list of 12 people, maybe you all just have a fun experience together instead.
Gardner: Outstanding. Thank you Lysha! And thank you, Cheryl! Melissa, a couple of tough acts to follow. What have you got?
Melissa Malinowski: Well, mine completely goes in line with both of yours, actually. No. 1, I really believe that time is your most valuable asset, so I like to think about how people spend their time that brings them long-term joy. Then, alternatively, how do you like to spend time with them?
As a gift for my mom one year, I bought us tickets to go to the International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, N.M.
Gardner: Wow! That appeals to the whimsical fool in me. That sounds awesome!
Malinowski: Yeah. It was on my mom's bucket list to go on a hot air balloon. We love New Mexico, and so we just had an entire week together. It was wonderful, because she lives halfway across the country, so I don't get that kind of time with her as much anymore. So it was really meaningful to both of us and I will never forget that. So that's something I definitely believe in.
And it's also not just people's hobbies, but how they're actually spending their time. Some people will say they're golfers, but are they actually spending their time golfing, because if not, then...?
Gardner: Don't buy them a new set of clubs.
Malinowski: Exactly. So my second bucket, I guess, is how do you feel about stuff? People have very specific relationships with the stuff around them. Either it causes a lot of anxiety or it's something that they feel that they need to surround themselves with.
So I like to think about people in that way. So if you walk into someone's house and it's super modern and pristine, and there's not very many things in there, they're probably very selective about the items that are brought into their home. So those people I definitely go for experiences. My brother is one of those people, so I got him a kayaking on the Chicago River one-hour tour. This year he's going on his honeymoon, so I'm going to...
Gardner: No spoilers!
Malinowski: Hopefully he's not listening.
Gardner: Nobody listens to this podcast.
Malinowski: He's going to Peru for his honeymoon, so I'm going to buy him a wallet, but I'm going to get currency from Peru to put in it. It's one of those annoying things when you travel to have to get currency. So you get on the ground and you can already do that. Skip that exchange portion of your trip.
Gardner: Awesome. I'm never exactly sure of the numbers behind this podcast. Rick can nod or not across the glass here. I think we have more guys listening to Rule Breaker Investing than gals -- I think -- so more men listeners. With the guys in mind, briefly, they're trying to think about what would my girlfriend, sister, wife really want. Or they think differently than I do, maybe. Can you help the guys out there? Just think about the gift that you would really like to receive personally. You may have already put it out there with your ideas. Think about receiving something from any kind of guy in your life. What do they need to know?
Fuentes: I can take a stab at it. I think it really depends on what type of person this gentleman is buying for. Is this person really materialistic? In that case they might want a nice, new purse rather than something practical. I'm definitely more on the practical side and for some reason my husband won't take that for an answer. When I say I want space storage bags, I am genuinely excited. I don't wear a lot heels. Again, I'm more practical. If I'm going to wear them once a year, I'd rather buy them for my sister. He wants to buy me a nice pair, but I will not be happy. So really listen to what the woman in your life...
Gardner: That is strong!
Fuentes: ... the woman in your life actually wants.
Gardner: I think I'm making that mistake, Lysha, because you feel like you want to do something special, but that takes you out of the realm of practical, sometimes, and maybe by just listening and learning, she really did want something practical.
Fuentes: Yes, at least that's my case.
Palting: For me it's literally anything on my plate that is considered emotional labor. Sometimes I want a house-cleaning company. It's not that I just want the house clean. I want someone to go and actually get the quotes, and figure it out, and schedule it, and take the whole onus of it off. Hands down, taking things off my plate rather than getting actual things.
Palting: Have the men considered gifting a subscription to Rule Breakers? But in all honesty...
Gardner: That's the perfect way to end this panel. I don't want to end it, but wow!
Palting: Women are better investors, and I think we should embrace that. Kind of joke gift, kind of not, but I think involving your significant other, or your close friend, or your close female family member in what you're passionate about, whether that be investing, or kayaking, or traveling; I think that is above and beyond anything you could buy for them, because you're wanting to share part of your life with them.
Malinowski: I love that. One of my favorite gifts that my husband got me was I asked for a video game that the two of us could play together.
Gardner: Now Melissa, I understand you're already married, but if you'd ever like to be married to somebody else as well, that would be awesome.
Malinowski: Not quite, not yet. But then we got through the whole video game and now there's other iterations of it, so every once in a while we'll get the new version and play again, because he gets into his niche. Neesh.
Gardner: Either one works for me.
Fuentes: I think that's the thing. Finding things that you can enjoy together. Absolutely.
Malinowski: Yes. And listening.
Fuentes: For sure.
Gardner: Well, that was a delight. And Cheryl, I want to briefly call you out, because I had the fun of working some with our summer interns at The Motley Fool in 2017 and you were their leader. And we all played a game together, because we're developing a mobile app to gamify the stock market a little bit for younger people, so they were play-testing. And at the end of that few weeks, where we all played together, you played as well. You did very well.
Palting: Thank you.
Gardner: But we decided we wanted to have something that was a quick gift for everybody to thank them for participating. And I think we mentioned this to you, Cheryl. Let's say it was on a Wednesday, and we were all having our final gathering on a Thursday. Could you just briefly describe what you did in those 24 hours?
Palting: Yes. It was an idea that came from you guys. I was merely the implementer of said idea.
Gardner: Oh, if you say so, but keep going.
Palting: Going back to my first tip -- I think it was my first tip -- about getting creative, especially if you're talking to budget-conscious families and friends, I created these paper plate awards. Just grabbed some markers and wrote awards out for everyone. Collaborated with David and the team working on the new project on what the awards would be, but I made them fun.
Gardner: To just say paper plates may not really fully convey. There were lots of different colors. I think some glitter. They were each an unique and individual piece of art that you had created in the 24 hours before that. So, maybe it does tap right back into that first tip you gave, Cheryl, but I wanted to call you out for that.
Palting: Oh, thank you!
Gardner: I still have my plate.
Malinowski: I would also, maybe, mention the "sunshine jars."
Palting: So, another free, creative gift that a lot of people really enjoyed, here, in the office were these sunshine jars, or happiness jars, as other companies have come to call them. You just get nice notes and cards from people around the office. It could be one sentence to an entire paragraph. You print them out and put them all in a jar using different colored papers. It's really pretty, but anyone can go back into their jar and look at what people wrote about them.
Malinowski: I think that would be great for a family to do for each member of the family.
Palting: Just leave the jars out and at your own convenience put nice things.
Gardner: All right, I'm not going to say that you outperformed the Foolish Men's Gift-Giving Panel. I'm not going to say that.
Palting: You can say that, David.
Malinowski: But it's implied. It's OK.
Gardner: It wasn't supposed to be competitive, but great job, team! Cheryl, Lysha, Melissa. Thank you very much. Fool on!
All right. Well, it wouldn't be a Motley Fool Gift-Giving Special if we didn't talk a little bit about financial gift-giving and gift-giving writ large. It can take different forms, and here to help us think through that is Mohna Shah. Mohna is the director of operations for Motley Fool Wealth Management, which is a sister company of The Motley Fool company that I work for and that Rule Breaker Investing, the podcast comes from. Mohna, a delight to have you with me.
Mohna Shah: Thank you so much!
Gardner: So obviously, a couple of tough acts to follow, but I know you're worthy of it. Because it's one thing to say, "Do this or that," or with Chris Hill, walk through on Dec. 24, local stores. But it's another thing if you're thinking about financial gifts this time of year that might be appreciated or might be efficient or just a good thing to do.
So Mohna, start us off with your first one, but before you do I'll just mention one of my childhood memories -- it was more around birthdays than, let's say, the holidays, but for some reason I would get a gift card and it would have dimes stuck in little slots in it. Now, dimes don't really work as much these days anymore, but that was my memory. When I think of financial gifts in my own youth, it was flipping open a gift card and there were little dimes inserted in the slots, so it may have been $1 or something like that. That definitely was one form of a financial gift. What do you want to kick us off with?
Shah: Well, I think it's important to package these gifts. Any financial gift is not likely to be flashy. It's not going to be the thing that somebody opens up on Christmas Day and it's just like, "Wow!"
Gardner: Unless it's a huge check.
Gardner: But we're not going there today.
Shah: Serious money. But no, this is a little bit different.
Gardner: It's not flashy.
Shah: It's maybe considered a gift to future Jane or future Johnny. It's also important, when we're talking about financial gifts, not to gift an obligation. I totally appreciate Cheryl's suggestion earlier about sharing your passion. If you do that and you don't get great feedback, maybe don't force it. Recognize that there's another way to the ultimate objective.
Starting off, I would say if you've done the share of stock of Disney, or The Motley Fool Investment Guide and it didn't take very well, maybe consider opening up a regular brokerage account at a firm for them and buying them an index fund or ETF, knowing that what they have is time. They don't have to monitor that investment day in and day out. It's something where they can grow it at their own pace. They can add other funds. Maybe they decide to add some stock or maybe they decide to open an IRA in conjunction with that. But that's a great way to give the gift of exposure and get over that first hurdle of investing.
Gardner: Yes, I hear you, so Mohna, where you're headed with that -- I'm thinking about my conversation with Joe Perna recently on this podcast where we talked about stock gifting. I'm certainly a fan of the idea of giving some shares to a child, but you're pointing out that not everybody wants to be a stock picker or has the time, so maybe just that index fund, which can be, in the best way, kind of a brainless thing that they can add to over the course of time. That might be, for a lot of people, a very fine way to start them.
Shah: Absolutely. And the other thing is we know you can add to that every month if you choose to, by automatic deposit, and then it grows in perpetuity. And again, it doesn't require any more brain cells a month from now, which is something that people want to avoid for people who are not big fans of investing.
Gardner: I understand. That's No. 1.
Shah: The second one is about the motivation and maybe what led you to investing in the first place, and that's to share either in a dialogue or in a letter what motivated you to get into this in the first place. What are your hopes and dreams as far as what the investing will do for you? What the investing will do for your kids.
Most families don't talk about money very often, or if they do there's a lot of awkwardness around it. I think the gift of having that conversation -- about what it was like when you were a child and what drove you to take a certain path -- is a really important conversation to have. I know that as a daughter of immigrants, for me it's incredible to know where my grandparents started from. Where my parents started from when they moved to this country. And knowing that, I'm a lot more motivated, myself, to keep things going in that direction.
Gardner: Wow! I'm trying to see how this looks as a gift. I guess a written letter, which is the sort of thing that somebody might save forever.
Shah: That's what I was envisioning as the best way to do it, because it also takes away that awkward opening line of how to do the dialogue that's a little bit like the birds and the bees conversation sometimes. I actually think that a letter is a little bit like opening up a diary, but one that you're OK with your kids or your grandkids seeing. That's so personal and probably gives them some insight into the person you are that is not just a parent or not just a sibling or something. It's a real part of you.
Gardner: That could be deeply meaningful. I see what you're saying. For some families, they do have a culture where they're a little bit more open. So maybe this one is over hot apple cider a little bit. Maybe it's not a gift. Maybe, as you said, it's just the word "dialogue." And maybe it's not right there on the big day -- Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever. Maybe it's two days before or two days after, but family times. Family opportunity.
Shah: Absolutely. It's so important, whether it's keeping up with your parents' plans for retirement, or your kid or grandkids' plans for college. Those are all really great financial conversations to have while you're in proximity as opposed to text or over the phone.
Gardner: Those are two good ones, Mohna. Do you have a third?
Shah: I do. I think it would be great if people found a financial literacy class or a financial planning seminar to attend. If you're somebody who's already well versed in finance and investing, I think the best thing to do is offer to attend with them, or offer to excuse yourself and let them go on their own so that they have the freedom to ask questions. They may be intimidated by somebody who's as knowledgeable as you. You want to give them the personal space to be open about that and not intimidated in that space. Even if you're the nicest person, that knowledgeable person next to you can make somebody feel very inhibited.
Gardner: It comes down, obviously, to the recipient in this case. Would they particularly value you going with them because they're like, "I'm scared to go to some financial seminar on my own." Or maybe this is a time where you're showing them that it's time for them to step out. You're setting them up, but you're setting them up to be more independent minded. It comes down to them.
Gardner: Did you ever receive a gift like this, by the way? It sounds good, although I'm picturing somebody opening this up on a big holiday, and it's a financial seminar at the community library at 7 p.m. next Thursday. Does it need to make this person happy?
Shah: I don't think we're going for happy, and again, that's why I put out the disclaimer that this is not your "shazam" gift. It's not the wow gift. But when I say it's not for happiness, there's a quality of being content, and I think this is something that's a catalyst to get to content.
Gardner: I like that. Yes. It's not going to sparkle or glitter. It's not going to make noise or hop around on its own. This is something, though, that at the right time for the right person, something that they will deeply benefit from and give them a sense of contentment looking backwards and have you remembering that Mohna said this on the Rule Breaker Investing podcast. It all worked out really well and you wouldn't have thought of it otherwise.
Shah: Correct. I never had a specific class, per se, but my parents set an incredible example of finance and behavior, and I think that's what I took away from it, was being able to follow that intimate setting where other people, I think, have to look. Not everybody has the luxury of having parents who are so instructive in financial behavior.
Gardner: You bet. All right, Mohna. For each of our previous panels, I had my final question for them. For you I'm just going to say, "Do you have a bonus fourth?"
Shah: I do. One of the best things that my parents did for me, that I didn't appreciate at all at the time, but the twentysomething and thirtysomething Mohna vastly appreciates is my parents gave me a credit card when I was in high school. They were the ones who were paying for it, so they saw all the transactions. They would never let me go above the limit. That allowed me to build credit and learn how to treat a credit card.
David, I was in my 20s before I understood how a debit card worked, because I had always treated a credit card essentially as a debit card. I could never spend more than I made. That, alone, made me stand out from my peers in their 20s who were learning the hard way about credit card interest rates and how to spend within their means. I know for parents it feels risky, but I think a credit card is a great gift of independence.
Gardner: Awesome! Mohna, thank you for all four ideas. I knew you were going to bring them, and sure enough you did. And if I'm a listener, and I'm hearing about Motley Fool Wealth Management for the first time, or I might have a follow-up based on something you said, how can I reach you?
Shah: You can go the website www.foolwealth.com. We have a team of financial planners, and we are always happy to help people.
Gardner: Awesome! Happy holidays! Season's greetings. Thank you, Mohna Shah!
Shah: Thank you, David!
Gardner: Well, I mentioned at the top of the show that I'm going to close this one with five board games for you to think about if you're a gamer and you want to know what Dave's playing these days or what I recommend as a gift to be given.
Now before I do that, I want to briefly pepper in a couple of my own thoughts. Mainly our panels -- I wanted to hear from them -- but I have picked up one or two things about watching good gift-givers over the years, and so I'm just going to share out two ideas of my own.
One is somebody who is really good at gift-giving in my life once taught me, "Think about who you are, and what you stand for, what you do, and give something of yourself. Because if you're giving to somebody who loves you, they'll appreciate that; that you put something of yourself into that gift."
So whether you're talking about Cheryl Palting creating a sunshine jar or a special paper plate or, in my case -- sure, we're about to head there -- games. A lot of people who are around me know that I love games. I love teaching games. That's a gift that I could give, just teaching people a board game. Or games, themselves. It makes a lot of sense coming from me. So, what's something of you that would be appreciated by others that you can put in some form of package and put under somebody's tree.
And then maybe point No. 2. If you can find this thing, it's pretty magical in my experience in terms of efficiency and almost your personal brand building if you can find this thing. And what do I mean by this thing? This thing would be a go-to gift that you can give every year, and by doing so people come to expect it from you and you deliver it every time.
Let me give a quick example. We have dear friends of ours. Around our age -- early fifties -- so we've kind of grown up with them. They're from Maine, and every year we get a wreath. It's from the state of Maine. It's a beautiful, traditional, in this case Christmas wreath and they send it to us every year. They always send it just at the start of December, so it's going to be on our house all month long and sometimes into January as well. And we know to expect that from them. And if I'm them, putting myself in their shoes for a sec, isn't that kind of great? To already have your idea and just to be able to repeat it year in and year out?
Do you have something like that? I'll share one thing that I do here at the Fool with people who are connected to me. This is one I dreamed up and I can repeat every year, so for a rather mediocre gift-giver this was a good thing that I happened upon that I repeat every year. I give gift cards to teammates like Rick Engdahl, my podcast producer. Or my Rule Breakers or Stock Advisor stock-picking teams. And it's always going to be a gift card from one of my stock picks.
So I'll look at, let's say, five or six companies. A nice, motley array of different types of consumer experiences, and it's going to be a gift card for that. You can pick. You're allowed to pick from a menu, but they're always going to be from my stock picks, from stocks you'll find in the Supernova Universe. So that's just a good one that can infinitely scale for me and I can repeat every year and maybe it becomes like a Maine Christmas wreath, an expected thing. Not that we should ever expect.
OK, there are a couple of thoughts. Let's close it out with my list of five board-game ideas for this holiday season. Now, there can be a tendency for me to drone on about games, but I'm going to just limit myself because we're at the end of a special podcast and I don't want to overstay my welcome. I'm going to keep moving quickly with this list.
I do want to say that it's ordered from No. 1, which will be the most accessible of these games. The ones that everyone can play, through to No. 5, which will be the hardest-core for hardcore gamers. So if you're not a regular board gamer -- that's not a big part of your family or cultural life, strategy board games -- please don't even think about what I say for No. 4 or No. 5. But if you are a hardcore gamer, chances are you might even know one or two of these anyway. But that's where you want to listen in.
So let's kick it off, then, with No. 1 and No. 1 for me, for about $15 or so, is Codenames. Codenames came out about a year and a half ago from Vladimír Chvatil. It is a word game kind of modeled on Password, for those who know the old game show, but it's played in teams that compete against each other over the same board of cards laid out on the table. There's a spy theme. I'm not going to try to explain the rules of this game.
The good news is it only takes about five or 10 minutes to explain the rules to this game, and if you're in a family gathering full of gamers and non-gamers, it's awfully helpful to have a game like that. So if you don't already know Codenames, I highly recommend it. I think it's one that you could be playing 10 years from now. It can become a family thing.
At Motley Fool events, at Member Events, sometimes we'll promise a game at the end and we'll always throw this game down on the table because it's a great thing. You can play with friends or strangers. And I will mention that in the last few months a new edition of Codenames called Codenames Duet has come out. And if you already know Codenames, you might not know that Codenames Duet, this new version in the green box, is a cooperative two-player version. You can play with a spouse or partner cooperatively a game of Codenames. It's very well designed, like each game in the Codenames family. Anyway, there it is. No. 1 is Codenames.
No. 2 is the game 7 Wonders. Now 7 Wonders is a card-drafting game. I won't even explain what that is if you don't know what it is, but it's a very accessible card game where you're playing through three eras.
Since it's 7 Wonders, we're talking about the seven ancient Wonders of the World, so that's the theming of the game. You're going to have a hand of cards. You'll draw one out of it, keep it for yourself, and pass them to the left. Then you're going to take the hand of cards from the person to your right and pick another one to add to your hand, and keep passing them around. You're card drafting. It's a fairly simple-strategy game. It's going to take about a half hour to teach.
It does work with non-gamers but there are some more serious concepts, so we're already getting into more of the gamer focus that I have for this list with 7 Wonders, but certainly a very accessible card game. Sort of a crossover game, too. For a lot of people who might know Parcheesi, or they might know Apples to Apples, or Ticket to Ride. If you know that one, this is kind of one step above that and acquaints them with a little bit more strategy, but not too much heaviness with the rules. 7 Wonders, which has been out for some years, now. Always a good one. It plays up to seven people.
No. 3 is Quest for El Dorado. Now, this is a very recent release and it's from one of my favorite game designers, Reiner Knizia. A friend of the Fool. Somebody that we've gotten to know over the past 10 years or so. Reiner has come out with a deck-building game. This is one where you are buying cards and adding it to your unique deck. Then you shuffle the deck and draw a hand of cards from your personal deck that you've been buying cards for throughout the game. And you're racing to be the first to find El Dorado.
And there are different ways to set up the courses each time on the game table, so it has good replayability. It's kind of an intro to deck builders. Now, if you don't know what a deck builder is, I'm not going to spend the time, now, to discuss that, but I will point you to one other board-game podcast I've done for Rule Breaker Investing. You can click back to June 22, 2016, which is entitled "5 Board Games That Will Make You a Better Investor." By the way, all five of those could make good gifts this holiday season. You can go back and listen to that where I talk, in particular, about Dominion, which is sort of the formative, initial deck builder.
Quest for El Dorado. Built on the shoulders of a game like Dominion, but one that has just been nominated for Game of the Year in Germany, the Spiel des Jahres. Congratulations to Reiner Knizia for getting on that list once again this year with the new game Quest for El Dorado.
Now we're entering geekier waters. No. 4 is Pandemic Legacy: Season Two. Now this is, again, a game that I've discussed before. In fact, on that same podcast of June 22, 2016, I talked about the game of Pandemic Legacy. Very briefly, Legacy games change as you play them.
Now what do I mean by that? Let's pretend that there was a game called Scrabble Legacy. There isn't, actually, although maybe it's an idea for somebody out there. But if you were ever playing Scrabble Legacy, you'd play a game of Scrabble with your family. A lot of us know Scrabble. Some of us even love Scrabble. I certainly like Scrabble.
So you play a game of Scrabble. At the end, whoever wins is able to do something to change the following game of Scrabble. This is silly, but let's just pretend that my friend, Rick Engdahl, the producer of Rule Breaker Investing, beats me in Scrabble and afterwards his reward is he's allowed to eliminate all of the vowels of one vowel type from our Scrabble board.
So, Rick, the devil that he is, selects E, the most common vowel. So the second game of Scrabble that we'll play together, there are no E's. Now again, this is not a game that exists. I'm not sure Scrabble Legacy would be a good game and I'm not sure you'd want to pull the vowels from the game and why would you pick the E, Rick?
But you understand that Legacy games, which is a new innovation within board games, change from one session to the next. You get to write your name on the game board in a game like Risk Legacy, which is a game. It's Risk as a Legacy format. When you win, there's an unnamed continent. You get to write your name on it with a Sharpie on the board, and the next time you play, everybody has to refer to that continent by the name that you gave it. Maybe your own given name. Everybody has to use your name to describe the continent.
That's what's happening with Legacy games, and Pandemic Legacy was a huge hit in 2016. Well, Season Two, a new version of that, is back. And this time everybody starts out in the oceans. Picture a game board like Risk. All the players are starting in the ocean. They don't know what's on land. They know a few cities on the coast, and that's how Pandemic Legacy: Season Two -- highly rated, highly reviewed -- starts. That one is just out this fall. In particular, if you're a geeky gamer like my group or my family is, you may have already finished Pandemic Legacy: Season One, which we did. Maybe you didn't know Season Two is out. Well, it is, and it could make a great gift for the geeky gamer in your life.
And now that finally brings me to No. 5, the most complex of all these games, and probably my favorite game release of the last 18 months. It's a game called Terraforming Mars. And one of the great things about this strategy game, each of us plays as a corporation that is out there on Planet Mars beginning to terraform it.
One of the great things about terraforming Mars is how thematic it is, because you are learning how Mars one day will be terraformed. For example, there are three key things that have to happen to terraform Mars. One is we need to raise the temperature. We need to turn it from a really cold planet to a much warmer planet through greenhouse gas release is one theory. A second thing we need to do is we need to get some water down on that planet. How do you get water on Mars and start to grow oceans? And the third thing you need to do is raise the oxygen level. It starts at 0%. We'll need to get it to 14% in order to terraform Mars.
Once those three things happen, which are all done somewhat cooperatively by each of us players, the game ends, but now we're going to count a score and see who did the best job. Who contributed the most value to terraforming Mars? It's a combination of a game with both cards and a board. The cards -- there's over 100 of them -- each one is unique. It has a little story about what you're doing, with a cost. You're going to be buying those cards. And then it has a board. You're going to be looking at Mars in front of you. Playing your cards in order to start putting down tiles on the board and building out your corporate presence on Mars.
I could go much longer into this one. It deserves it. I'm giving it short shrift, here, at the end of our gift-giving special, but I want you to know I love this game, and yes, it has a little expansion or two. They're starting to pop up, as well.
Well, each of these games, to close, is in stock at Amazon and other gaming sites, so none of them is a hard find or will take too long to ship. If you're inspired by any of these games at different levels of gamer geekiness, I hope you'll take a look. Many other games out there, too. It's a wonderful way to give a gift.
Well, I hope this podcast felt like a gift for you. It certainly did for me. I thank the Fools who gave their time and their insights. It was a lot of fun this week. We don't always have seven or eight voices on a Motley Fool Rule Breaker Investing podcast, but I'll tell you that whenever I do, I have a great deal of fun with it. Thank you to my fellow fools!
Most of all, thank you for suffering a fool gladly this week in Rule Breaker Investing. Next week I'll be back with a look at the year ahead. Yup, we're going to look at 2018. Make some prognostications. Think about business and the markets. I'll also be reviewing five stocks to put under the tree. That's right. A year ago, this week, I picked five stocks and said let's put them under the tree. Let's see how they did here in 2017. All that and more next week.
In the meantime, Fool on!
As always, people on this program may have interest in the stocks they talk about, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don't buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. Learn more about Rule Breaker Investing at RBI.Fool.com.