Christmas is always a stressful time of year. We spend weeks planning holiday parties and dinners. Then we put undue pressure on ourselves to get the perfect gifts for our loved ones. No matter how good the gifts may be, there is no guarantee that they will stand the test of time. While your younger recipients may have toys, video games, or candy in their letters to Santa, why not give the gift of how to manage money? Which (and please excuse this overused phrase) is truly the only gift that keeps on giving.
It is a common practice to give money or a check in place of a gift. That is a fine choice if you know the money isn’t going to be wasted on something frivolous and shortly forgotten about like a younger me loved to do. However, unlike when I was younger, teaching tools are not only widely available, they are easily accessible through devices your loved ones probably already have, like a smartphone.
This Christmas, maybe pass on the gift cards, cash, checks, or bonds and load up their phones with financial tech apps. Download Digit to help them start saving money. Digit is a great tool that automates the savings process by examining spending habits. It is a great introduction into how easy saving is, while giving weekly updates on just how effective it is.
With the savings automated, the next download should be Mint to create a budget and keep the spending in check. Mint is one of the most popular personal finance applications, and for good reason. Its most attractive feature is the ability to create budgets and make it easy to track spending and stick to goals.
The next step in this app-based financial education journey is learning how to use money to make more money. For that, use two great apps, Robinhood for a basic investing account and Stockpile for stocks made simple. Both of these apps are great tools for simplifying and scaling down potentially intimidating financial commitments. Robinhood provides real-time free stock trading and Stockpile allows you to buy fractional shares with a simple interface.
The best part of the apps I mentioned is that they are all free, but don’t be stingy this Christmas season. Instead of writing a check, how about you buy your family $20 worth of stock in Stockpile and see how much money they can turn that into? The best way to learn how to manage finances is practice, so why not gift your loved ones the tools they need to do just that?