December 2, 2016

The Gift of Financial Empowerment

Meaningful and impactful gift ideas with lasting value for women in transition, kids of all ages, millennials...
Dawn Doebler, MBA, CPA, CFP®, CDFA®, Senior Wealth Advisor

I love giving gifts to my family and friends during the holidays. Throwing a gift card in an envelope has never been my style—I prefer choosing something personal and useful. Over the years, I’ve given so many scarves, cheese knives and wine glasses that this year I decided to give gifts that have a positive and lasting impact. And since I advise people on their finances and investments, I am giving the gift of financial empowerment.

To be financially empowering, my gifts had to meet at least one of several criteria. They must be:

·      Educational, but not boring

·      Tailored to the needs of the giftee

·      Worth more in the future

·      Unique

With this in mind, here is what’s on my gift list this year.

Women in transition: 

Facing the holidays for the first time after a divorce or death of a spouse can be extremely difficult. It can be a lonely and unsettled time as your friend navigates life as a single person again. The best gift you can give them is acknowledging their situation rather than ignoring it.

Having worked with women in transition over the years, many of them are at a loss for how to deal with their finances. Making financial decisions for themselves—and in many cases—by themselves is stressful. Show your friend that you care about them and understand their situation by giving a gift that uplifts and empowers them.

If someone you care about is divorced, Own Your Own Financial Freedom by Andrea Kennedy is a must-read and a great place for them to start educating themselves about their finances before, during and after a divorce. While Andrea helps women navigate the financial ramifications of divorce, this book is also a great primer for all women providing practical lessons about investing, calculating net worth, and other financial planning essentials.

Kids of all ages:

I love the idea of teaching the basics of investing by having a personal stake in the game. And who wouldn’t want to own a piece of their favorite company? If your child likes Build-A-Bear or Disney, or you know someone who loves Harley Davidson or Under Armor, you can buy them one share of stock from Give A Share. Many companies offer stock certificates (or replicas) that are beautiful pieces of art, and you can opt to have the certificate framed and ready to hang.

The fun part is teaching your child (or learning along with them) about investing by following their stock, and discovering the perks that come with stock ownership, like declared dividends. The best lessons are learned through sharing a personal experience.  As their stock goes up or down in value, they will learn the benefits of investing wisely and for the long-term.

Millennials:

If your millennial just isn’t getting the whole ‘personal financial responsibility’ thing of adulting, then put You’re So Money: Live Rich Even When You’re Not, by Farnoosh Torabi on your list of gifts for them. Farnoosh combines wit and humor with practical, useful advice to help them make the most of their money now and finish rich. If your millennial is getting engaged over the holidays, this is a great gift to start the happy couple off on the right financial footing.

Teenagers with jobs:

Ask anyone if they would like to be a millionaire, and the answer you get is a resounding “Yes!” You could give them a lottery ticket, but the odds are not very good that they will be the lucky one-in-one-hundred million.

Becoming a millionaire is not really hard. The secret is simply compounding, the thing that happens to money when you start to save early and often—turning small savings into potential millions of dollars over 40, 50 or 60 years. And one of the best savings tools is a Roth IRA.

The most important requirement is that your child must have earned income to contribute to a Roth IRA, and can contribute up to a maximum of $5,500 of their earnings annually. Since they will be contributing after-tax dollars, the earnings grow tax-free.

While this is not technically a gift since they will have to save their own earned money, you can use a Roth IRA to teach them foundational lessons of savings and wealth building.

It’s the holidays, so please feel free to give your niece the fuzzy bunny slippers or your grandson the wireless headphones, but remember that the really cool gifts are the ones with lasting value! For more financially empowering gift ideas, please visit Her Wealth – Resources!

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Shawn: Now you hear all kinds of deals about leasing cars, how can you negotiate a better deal if you want to lease?

Nina: Okay, well many people don't realize that they can actually negotiate the sticker price on a leased car in the same way that you would do that if you're buying a car. And since when you lease -- when you're, you know, your lease payments basically cover the depreciation, the difference between the sales price and the residual value. So it's definitely in your best interest to try to reduce that sales price as much as possible because then you'll pay you know, smaller dollars over the life of the lease. Make sure you pay attention to the down payment at the lease signing. And so here's an example, you might see an ad that says you know, lease payment is only 1.99 a month and that sounds like a great deal for thirty six months. The catch is, is that it might require a $3,600 down payment. So, if you amortize the down payment, then actually that 1.99 special, becomes 2.99. So, you really have to kind of look at total costs. 

And then lastly, dealerships use the term, money or lease factor, when they're calculating your financing costs and a lease factor is not the same as an interest rate. So, you have to make sure the dealer converts that lease factor into a comparable interest rate so you know what your financing charges are. 

Shawn: At the end of the day, does one method wind up being more expensive more often than the other, or can we tell that?

Nina: You know what, it really depends on how long, if you're going to hold the car for a long time, you're better off buying. But if you know, and if you're not, if you just really enjoy driving and you want to have a new car, then go ahead and lease. I mean, there's pros and cons to both, to be honest with you, it's not one size fits all.

Shawn: Alright Nina, great. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Alright, Nina Mitchell is with The Colony Group, for more go to wtop.com and search Her Wealth.

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Dawn Doebler, MBA, CPA, CFP®, CDFA®, Senior Wealth Advisor

Dawn’s experience spans more that 25 years providing wealth management, financial planning and corporate finance solutions for clients. As an MBA, CPA, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), she is uniquely qualified to understand the challenges and financial needs of clients from executives to entrepreneurs, as well as single breadwinner parents. Dawn is a weekly contributor to WTOP radio.