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Give lasting financial gifts

This is the season of giving and sometimes it can be difficult to find give gifts of value for those we care about. A gift of increased financial knowledge can help the recipient improve their life for many years. As a bonus, there are many low cost choices available.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

For young adults: Becoming financially literate as a young adult means being able to avoid problems with excessive spending and debt, as well as the opportunity to use time to compound your investments. The following books can help build a solid foundation, All less than $20:

“The Richest Man in Babylon” -- A classic by George Clason on growing and using wealth wisely. “Guide to Starting Your Financial Life” by Karen Blumenthal. This is a quick read for high school and college age adults looking to get started in the right direction.

Do you want to encourage a young person to start saving for retirement? Consider making matching contributions to their Roth IRA. They need to be earning an income to qualify, and it is beneficial for them to make a contribution of their own. This might be the incentive they need to get started. They will experience the benefit of compounding over a long period.

For someone getting started or rebuilding their finances, consider giving two hours with a certified financial planner to assist them in getting organized, setting up a budget, a debt management plan, or starting a saving and investment program.

If they are motivated and just need help organizing their spending and saving, look into -- $10 per month for extended plans. This is an updated version of the proven envelope system to track and manage expenses and it works.

For a more inspirational book to help get their financial life together, consider “Your Money or Your Life.” Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote this bestseller in 1992 and it has been updated several times. It describes how to match your lifestyle and assets to your goals. For a workbook type format, look at “Financial Planning Workbook for Dummies.” Both books will walk you through the steps to develop a financial plan. They will not provide investment advice, however they will get you well prepared to meet with a professional adviser and make good use of their advice.

For someone who wants to become a better investor give a subscription or access to educational materials so they can make better investment choices. Membership to the American Association of Individual Investors is $29 per year and includes online resources, a monthly magazine and access to speakers at local meetings. There are numerous books on the basics of investing. Start with the classics such as a “Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton Malkiel or “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham. A subscription to the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times can help the educated investor perform their own research, better understand what makes economies work and choose investments. A less expensive option is a new library card.

Finally, if you have been financially successful, you can take time to pass on your knowledge to a young or less knowledgeable person to help them get started with these resources.

There is no better time than now to get started improving someone’s financial future. There are many options to fit everyone’s situation and gift budget. If you are having difficulty deciding what to give this season, consider giving financial knowledge. It will appreciate in value for many years.

Tom Roberts, principal of A New Approach Financial Planning in Lakewood Ranch, can be reached at (941) 927-9590 or