Now that the holidays are here, you're probably looking around for the right gifts for your loved ones.
Of course, as you know, it's not always easy to find gifts that are both meaningful and useful. This year, why not add financial gifts to your shopping list?
What types of financial gifts should you consider giving? Let's look at a few possibilities:
* Contributions to Section 529 plans. If you have a child (or grandchild) that will be headed off to college in a few years, you may want to contribute to a Section 529 college savings plan.
Your earnings, and withdrawals will be exempt from federal taxes as long as the money goes toward paying college costs.
There may be additional tax benefits to those who participate in their own state's plan. Also, you can contribute generous amounts to your savings plan. Plus, you can change beneficiaries; if you've been putting money in a Section 529 plan for your child or grandchild, and he or she decides to forego college, you can transfer the money to another family member.
* Contributions to an IRA. If you know a loved one has an IRA, consider making a contributions. Many people don't fully fund their IRA each year -- so any help you can give toward that goal will be important.
* Stocks. Consider giving shares of a company that produces products or services that are used by your intended recipient. If you're going to give away some of your own shares, you'll need to know what you originally paid for the stock, how long you've held it and its fair market value at the date of the gift.
Recipients of your gift will need this information to determine if you have to pay gift taxes. You'll also need to determine if you have to pay gift taxes. You can give up to $12,000 per year, free of gift taxes, to as many people as your want.
Over your lifetime, you can give up to $1 million without incurring gift taxes.
* Savings bonds. They may sound old-fashioned and stodgy, but U.S. Savings Bonds can still make nice financial gifts, especially for young people who can use the money in the future. Among the most popular savings bonds are Series EE Bonds, which can be purchased in denominations ranging from $50 (or $25 for Electronic EE Bonds) to $10,000.
Paper EE Bonds are sold at half their face amount and will increase in value until they are cashed in or reach final maturity in 30 years. Electronic EE Bonds are sold at face value and reach maturity immediately. You can learn more about Series EE Bonds and TIPS, or even purchase them directly, from the Treasury Department's website devoted to savings bonds at www.savingsbonds.gov.
A financial gift may not be traditional, but it can have a big impact on the recipient's life -- and it won't be forgotten after the holidays are over.