Get ready for a new crop of May graduates and June brides by preparing to give gifts that really count. Sure, 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 give 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 retirement. It may seem a bit extreme to help a twentysomething 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.
Think your favorite graduate could stand to further his education when it comes to finances? Offer a year-long subscription to Motley Fool Green Light, a monthly newsletter chockfull of straightforward, uncomplicated money tips for just $49.
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 if she has an account and if so, then coordinate with the family to ensure that all guidelines regarding limits and such are met.
5. A gift that keeps giving. Find a creative way to help your favorite young person to 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.
This article is adapted from the Motley Fool Green Light "Money Answers" archive, which features more than 100 articles on personal finance topics ranging from taxes to credit to beginning investing, organized by subject and life stage. For access to this content -- plus the current newsletter, back issues, members-only discussion boards, and advisor blogs -- take a free 30-day trial today!
Fool contributor Elizabeth Brokamp is a licensed professional counselor with a special interest in Robert Brokamp, editor of The Motley Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter.