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5 Financial Holiday Gifts Family Members Will Love

November 28, 2016 | Becky Niiya

With the joyful frenzy of the holiday season now in full swing, the hunt for the perfect gift is on. But, not everyone is clamoring for a pile of presents under the tree.Have a family member who “Kondo-ized” her apartment and declared war on clutter? She’s not the only one. Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 100 plus weeks and counting.

And study after study shows that experiences such as vacations, concerts, dinner with friends, or tickets to a sporting event create longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. So, what’s a thoughtful gift-giver to do? Fifty-two percent of Americans plan to give financial gifts to family members this holiday season according to TD Ameritrade’s recent survey of 1,000 investors(1).

The survey shows that cash, gift cards and checks are the most common types of financial gifts given to family members. However, gift cards are starting to lose their appeal with a Bankrate report revealing just 27 percent of Americans like receiving them.

“As a middle-school teacher, I am showered with gift cards during the holidays,” said 42-year-old Jeff of Omaha, Neb. “Of course, I appreciate my students thinking of me, but the reality is I’m not a coffee drinker and don’t need the 20 Starbucks gift cards I get every year.”

Ditch the unwanted gifts and impersonal gift cards and try giving something new this year.

  1. Help frequent travelers breeze through the airport with a membership to TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or a VIP airport lounge program. For those who already have this covered, gift your airline miles or hotel rewards points.
  2. Put adult children on the path to home ownership. For parents with the money and desire to help, consider helping fund part of a down payment.
  3. Give a gift that keeps on giving. Subscription boxes have moved far beyond the jelly of the month club and now include fashion, books, beauty, fitness, specialty food, razors and even pet toys.
  4. Plan a special experience together. Indoor skydiving, painting, a cooking class or Broadway show. Spending time with a loved one doing something they care about can be more enjoyable and memorable than a gift.
  5. Fund a 529 college savings plan. Grandparents, aunts, uncles or any family member can set up a plan for a child while gaining a potential tax benefit as an added bonus. TD Ameritrade’s survey shows seventeen percent of those giving financial holiday gifts contribute money toward college savings.

“Whichever gifts people choose to give, the important thing to remember is to have a budget, spend only what you can afford and not to let the holidays derail your long-term financial goals,” said Dara Luber, a retirement and long-term investing professional at TD Ameritrade.