This Christmas will take place against the backdrop of global economic and political turmoil, and a severely cash-strapped consumer base. Local political shenanigans, as well as Donald Trump’s election as the next US president, have had detrimental effects on the Rand. Petrol prices have recently increased by 45c per litre, and medical inflation is set between 10% and 20% for 2017. The catastrophic national drought has resulted in dramatic food price hikes leaving consumers more debt-ridden than ever before. In short, now is not the time to splurge on extravagant Christmas gifts. Our advice is use this back-drop to be more creative about one’s gift giving by seeking out gifts that have lasting, long-term benefits for the recipient. Here are our top eight gift ideas this festive season:
- Money jars
A super idea for children is to make three money jars labelled Save, Spend and Share. Shops such as MerryPak provide an excellent range of jars, tins and containers that are well-suited for this DIY project. This gift is an ideal way to teach children the all-important money lessons of saving for the long-term, spending on what is necessary and giving a portion of one’s pocket money to charity. An alternative gift is a good, old-fashioned Piggy Bank which, since the advent of online banking, has become somewhat obsolete. Regardless, it remains an excellent way of instilling good saving habits in children, and retailers such as CNA, Mr Price Home, the Crazy Store and most toys shops stock these items.
- What colour is your Piggy Bank?
One of the most wonderful books on money management and entrepreneurship for preteens and teens is a gem of a book by Adelia Celline Linecke called What colour is your Piggy Bank? Ideally suited to young entrepreneurs, this masterpiece encourages children to explore what it is they love doing and how to create entrepreneurial ventures from their passions. One chapter explores new twists on traditional jobs such as lawn-mowing, babysitting and dog-walking. The author also covers topics such as scheduling, partnerships, promotions, saving and investing, and giving back to the community, and it is ideal for any child showing early entrepreneurial flair.
- Rich dad, poor dad for teens: The secrets about money that you didn’t learn at school
In this book, Kiyosaki and Lechter explore the benefits of thinking outside the salary box by exploring how to create passive income. The book teaches valuable lessons such as how to ask empowering questions, for example, turning the sentence “I can’t afford the things I want” around to be “How can I afford the things I want?”. The authors suggest that teenagers sit with their parents while they pay bills, look at their parents’ financial statements (or helping them create one), go to work with a parent, do the grocery planning for a week, understand how investments and the power of compound interest work, and other fantastic ideas to help teenagers understand the value of money.
- Reading material for adults
There is a huge array of money and finance books for adults, but our top two book recommendations would be Bruce Cameron’s Retire Right and Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect. Retire Right is a brilliant guide that covers all major financial decisions that need to be addressed both leading up to retirement and throughout one’s retirement years, and is a must-read for any pre-retiree. The Compound Effect is a fascinating book that looks at the core principles that drive success, and is a great handbook for jump-starting one’s career. The book investigates how to make small and continuous improvements when applying your strengths and talents, and how to install new habits that lead to continual improvement. Another great idea is a magazine subscription to a reputable finance magazine or newspaper such as Personal Finance, Financial Mail, Moneyweb or Finweek, with online subscriptions being good options for the tech-savvy.
- Wallet budget organiser
Many people use the ‘envelope’ system as an effective way of managing their monthly budgeting, and www.amazon.com provides an array of wallets which contain special folders and dividers to help users separate their money into different spending categories.
- Online trading account
Signing your teenager up to an online, virtual stock-trading account such as the JSE Investment Challenge or Investopedia Stock Simulator is an excellent way of teaching them how the stock market works. For the older teenage or young adult, give them a gift of a real online trading account through Options House, Fidelity, E*Trade or TD Ameritrade, and spend time with them trading on the stock market. This is a brilliant way of learning about investor behaviour and how the share market works.
- TFSA or FUNDISA account
Opening a Tax-Free Saving Account (TFSA) for one’s children is both a wonderful financial gift as well as a great way to learn about the power of compound interest. TFSAs are free of all taxes on investment returns and are excellent vehicles to demonstrate how compound interest works over time. The website www.savetaxfree.co.za is a great source of information regarding these investments vehicles. A wonderful gift for any child who comes from a household with an income of less than R180 000 per year would be to contribute towards a Fundisa education fund (see www.fundisa.org.za).
- Save and match voucher
A great way to develop a healthy savings mentality is to encourage one’s child to save towards something that they really want. If your child is saving towards a new surfboard, for instance, a great idea would be to gift them with a hand-made voucher for 50% of the cost of the surfboard. The voucher promises that, once they have managed to save up 50% of the cost of the surfboard, you will gift them the balance. This voucher creates a great incentive for saving and working towards a medium-term goal.
Happy Christmas shopping!