For my Thanksgiving offering, you get three columns in one -- a bit of advice on shopping, talking and spending as you prepare for your holiday gift giving.
Holiday Gifts that Say 'Money'
You're likely headed out to shop this weekend, so here are a few gifts that might make sense no matter what the age of the recipient.
For younger children, there's a new take on an old favorite: the piggy bank. One of my favorite gifts is a translucent plastic piggy bank that's divided into four chambers for saving, spending, investing and charity. It's a great way to teach younger children to set up priorities and drop coins in each slot to reach different goals.
This year there are additional teaching banks from the same company, called Money Savvy Generation, in the shape of a cow and a football. These can be ordered online at the company's
Web site for $15.95 plus shipping and handling.
One of my perennial favorite gifts for young teens is the VisaBuxx card -- a reloadable debit card that allows teens and parents to track spending instantaneously online. It's easy to reload an allowance, and the card can be used at any Visa location for shopping or to withdraw cash. These can be bought at
For market watchers, the 2007 edition of
The Stock Trader's Almanac
is a terrific gift, filled with historical facts and trends. And new this year you can also get
The Commodity Trader's Almanac
at the same price. It's filled with seasonal trends, historic statistics and contract specifications for everything from soybeans to sugar to crude oil -- a perfect gift for futures traders.
The Gift of 'The Money Talk'
I'm recommending two new books that will help you start an extremely difficult financial conversation.
The Parent Care Conversation
by Dan Taylor gives strategies for discussing the important issues faced by families with aging parents.
Whether it's a strictly financial talk about how they're managing their money today -- or a more challenging topic such as their wishes for distributing property and the family home -- this book will tell you how to broach the subject and work your way through to a conclusion that leaves everyone with pride intact.
Thanksgiving weekend or the coming holidays are the perfect time to start this process. If you can't bring yourself to have a sensible discussion that leads to a written plan, then you definitely will make use of the second book I am recommending,
The Family War - Winning the Inheritance Battle
by Les Kotzer.
This book brings home the realities of what happens when families fail to plan while the parents are alive. Whether a will is contested out of principle or out of greed, the consequences are costly in terms of money and estrangement.
Kotzer and his co-authors are estate planners who have seen what happens when plans are improperly written. Parents may have seen a division of assets as "fair," but beneficiaries don't agree. Parents may have thought their offspring could "share" the vacation home, but those same kids couldn't share toys half a lifetime ago.
Whether you're the second spouse or the child of the first marriage or the one named as executor, you'll want to know how to win the "Family War."
The Gift to Yourself
the most important gift this holiday season -- the gift of arriving in January without any new bills. Make your gift list, and then send everyone on it a holiday card announcing your spending vow. On your card, include a promise to do one good deed for that person in the coming three months.
Consider offers to babysit, cook dinner, clean house, give a lesson in online anything, or simply to act as chauffeur for a day. The gift and the sentiment will be appreciated as much as another pair of gloves or shirt. And that's The Savage Truth.
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Terry Savage is an expert on personal finance and also appears as a commentator on national television on issues related to investing and the financial markets. Savage's personal finance column in the Chicago Sun-Times is nationally syndicated, and she released her fourth book,
The Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Need?
in June 2005. Savage was the first woman trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and is a registered investment adviser for stocks and futures. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan, Savage currently serves as a director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Corp. She also has served on the boards of McDonald's and Pennzoil.