ANCHOR: The recession has forced thousands of people to rethink how they’re going to spend money this holiday season.
ANCHOR: Money and real estate expert Ilyce Glink is here with a few gift suggestions that shouldn’t break the bank.
ILYCE: According to one study, the average American family will spend nearly $1,000 on gifts, food, and entertainment this holiday season – and expect to pay off that bill in February, March, and April. If paying for your winter holidays through next year’s tax day sounds unappealing, consider rethinking what you’re going give and how much you’re going to spend.
There are easy inexpensive or free gifts you can the people on your list. A terrific gift is a magazine subscription. You’ll spend $15 or less. Or, buy a book or CD and spend $20 or less. Give the gift of time by making coupons to do odd jobs around the house for someone you love, or to chauffeur them around. It won’t cost you anything except some time. You can also bake a cake or holiday cookies, and spend $10 or less. Finally, you can always give a nominal amount to a charity in someone’s name, and write off your donation on your taxes.
Or, why not give a gift of the future – a child’s future that is. Consider contributing to a child’s
college savings account.
ILYCE: You can give a little book or inexpensive toy for the child to open, but then make a deposit into the college account – Even better, deposit the cash into a 529 account, which is federal and state tax free. You can also register at UPROMISE.COM, which will allow your purchases to translate into free cash for a child’s 529 account. Another idea is to buy individual shares of stock for someone. The easiest way is to buy it yourself through your own brokerage account and then transfer ownership of the shares. You can print out company information at Bloomberg.com. For kids, you might want to buy them shares of a company they’d recognize, like Disney, Microsoft, GE, or Time Warner AOL.
ILYCE: When it comes to budgeting for the holidays, remember to start with what you can afford to pay for in cash. Better that, than to have your financial hangover start before the New Year.
ILYCE: Larry and Roseanne, one of the producers gave me a little early holiday gift: A Market Madcap. Mine is FED WATCH, but others are called MARKET TICK, RUNNING BULL, STOCK PICKER, DOT.COM, KID TRADER, and BOO HOO BEAR. Find out more about them at www.marketmadcaps.com.