5 Gift Alternatives Speed Up Your Financial Independence Journey
A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.
The holidays are a upon us and with it the struggle to find that perfect present. Maybe by now, you’ve told your parents that you don’t need anything. “Please don’t get me anything.” Well, perhaps, it’s time to re-think your holiday wish list and instead ask for a few items that will get you to financial independence sooner. These may be some items you’ve never thought about because when we think of presents, we normally always think tangible items. If you are tired of getting another sweater, time to ask for something better this year. It’s never too early to start planning for your financial future. Whether you are in high school, college or just starting out, a little financial help can go along way. These gift alternatives are meant to start you on a strong financial foundation which will ultimately provide you a better life in the long run. So think outside of the box and ask Santa for a little financial help. Remember if you don’t ask, you don’t get. As you read through this, you may not have even heard of these things, but the beauty of today is that we live in a world of information. Exercise those search muscles. As an #eldermillenial, I will offer this offer this advice, getting one of these as a present will start you off an amazing path toward financial independence and financial freedom and it is absolutely better than any damn sweater you will receive. Trust me on this!
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Fund Your IRA
If you work and receive a taxable earned income (W2), you can contribute to an IRA. There is a misconception that the IRA which stands for Individual Retirement Account is only for retirement, when in fact it can be withdrawn later in time for things such as a first time home down payment or education expenses. It can also be a great first step to introduce you to investing. You can only contribute up to the earned income so if you earn $1000 from a part-time job at the mall, you can only contribute $1000 to the IRA up to a maximum of $5500 (currently). Even if the earned income is used as spending money, your parents or grandparents can technically match what you earn and fund it into an IRA. This means that you can start investing as early in your teens and this can significantly make you more money in the long-run and who doesn’t want more money. Read more about IRA’s here.
Pay Off a Month of Student Loans
Have you ever considered instead of asking for presents that add up to a few hundred dollars to instead ask for that money to be used towards paying down student loans. This is especially great for those that have just graduated college and need a little help. Paying down student loans earlier reduces the overall interest rate paid and can also significantly free up money in the future for investment. I know we sometimes think that student loans are the student’s responsibility, but a little help earlier on can go a long way. Depending on your parents or grandparents financial capabilities and how much the monthly payment is, ask them to make out the check directly to the student loan servicer so it goes directly to the principal and does not get used for other things (which sometimes happens). This will help reduce the estimate payoff date and perhaps provide you the impetus to pay off the loan debt as quickly as possible. By freeing up a month’s worth of student loans, you now have the option to save or invest more.
Get a Subscription to an Investing Magazine
A bit of TMI. My mom used to subscribe to Money magazine and Kiplinger’s. These are two very popular money magazines and she would leave them in the magazine rack in the bathroom so of course, they would be a go to read while in there. Consider asking for a subscription to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money or Motley Fool to expose yourself to the world of money and investing. At first glance, you may wonder what you can learn from a magazine which may seem like a seemingly obsolete medium, but stay open minded. The more you are exposed to the concepts and lingo of stocks, investment and personal finance, the better off they will be. Trust me, you’ll learn more from these magazines that you will ever learn from People or US Magazine. Sorry to say that Kim K’s antics will not get you towards financial independence. Annual gift subscriptions range from $10 - $20 so it’s fairly inexpensive for the content that you get and if you prefer, you can also get online access for easy reading.
Ask for Financial Class
Another great gift idea is a financial course. I’ve taken a few classes from CreativeLive. It’s an online platform with many great speakers and teachers teaching a range of topics from money to investing to business to side hustles to photography. It’s all online and available via desktop and through the CreativeLive app so it’s easy to access, watch and participate. Browse through their offerings, but I would recommend the following in the personal finance space.
The sad reality is that many of us will have probably spend more years in Calculus than we do talking about personal finances and then how often do we use integers in our daily life. The courses in CreativeLive are taught by people in the know and are very relevant to today’s times and the classes are again fairly inexpensive for the kind of content they have.
Ask for The Money Journal
We created The Money Journal to provide a hands-on guide to help those in the early stages of their financial journey. The journal contains lots of money tips, exercises and journal prompts to encourage everyone to start thinking about money in a way that serves them. Remember when you were a kid and you were asked to write a diary or journal of your summer vacation or of the things you wanted out of life. This works just like that except we talk about it in the context of money. You see, most of the time, when we are growing up, everyone tells us that we can be anything we want, have anything we want, but no one tells us how. The journal serves as guide for you to ask the universe what you really want and create a plan to achieve it. Yes, most of the things we want out of life will take some money, but we sometimes don’t realize that it actually doesn’t cost a whole lot to get the life that we want. The journal will also serve as a snapshot of where your thoughts, dreams and money goals are in this point in time. Your goals may be different and it’s nice to see what you’ve accomplished a few years from now when you read back on the journal. Learn more about the journal here.
So hopefully, these have given you some ideas of alternatives gifts to help you on the journey to financial independence. Remember that financial independence is all about securing a path for options. This may mean being financial secure enough to leave a job that no longer speaks to you. This may mean having the financial means to travel for long periods of time. This may mean staying at home with your kids without guilt in the future. Saving money takes time and what better time to do so than now.
And one more thing, we normally give and get presents to show love and what better way to show love than to put yourself on the best financial path. And sometimes the best present doesn’t always fit in a box because financial freedom is all about being outside of the box. Happy Holidays!