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Financial Gift Ideas

This time of year, personal financial advisor, Ray Martin, is typically offering advice on holiday spending.

But on the The Saturday Early Show, he's not telling you how to spend wisely - he has suggestions on what to buy.

Some of the items he suggested make great gifts for the person who needs some help managing or learning about money. The gifts run from practical to playful, but they are all items that Martin either uses himself or wishes he owned.

Helpful Tools

  • Financial Software:
    1. Turbo Tax Premier, $59.95: This program helps you do your taxes.
    2. Quicken Premier, $69.95: Plan your budget and track your money with this software.
    3. Quicken Lawyer, $49.95: This software allows users to draw up some very basic legal documents, such as a bill of sale or a lease.
  • Brinks Molded Fire Safe, $25: Martin says no home is complete without a fireproof box. He recommends keeping passports, insurance documents, wills, marriage certificates and other essential documents inside. These items are difficult to replace and you don't want them lost in a fire. Sentry also makes a version of this product. Prices range from $25 to $60.

    Fun for Adults and Kids

  • Brookstone Ambient Orb Stock Market Monitor, $150:
    Brookstone calls this "a mood ring for the market." The orb changes color as the market changes. Green indicates that stocks are up, red signals that stocks are down and yellow is unchanged. You can hop on the company's Web site and set up your orb to track the Dow, S&P, Nasdaq or your individual portfolio. It will even monitor the temperature. You also have the option of changing the orb's color palette. Simply plug the orb into an electrical outlet; it will receive wireless information and you're instantly plugged into the market. Martin says the orb is a great conversation piece for the office, and it's brand-new this season.
  • Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register, $44.95:
    This toy has won several "Toy of the Year" awards. Aimed at the younger set (primarily ages 3 to 5), it teaches addition and subtraction, coin identification and other real world money skills. The register lights up, talks, and displays numbers on a large screen. Kids can scan and weigh items, just as you do with a real grocery store check-out register. When "checking out" at the store, kids are asked if they want to pay with "cash or credit." The toy also comes with a pretend credit card. Built-in games have varying levels of difficulty as math skills improve.

    Martin notes: While it's great to teach kids about money, he does not recommend giving kids cash as a gift. Instead, consider appreciated stock. When kids sell the shares, the gains will be taxed at a lower capital gains rate (five or 10 percent) versus the parents' higher rate (15 percent).

    Martin also recommends staying away from savings bonds. At today's current rates, it will take more than 26 years for a bond that's worth $25 to grow into $50. Stock is bound to have a much better return.

    Financial Take on Some Traditional Gifts

  • Cufflinks:
    Cufflinks that look like coins can be a great gift. For people who want to buy a pair similar to the one Martin wore on The Saturday Early Show, check out:
    1. Brooks Brothers Mercury Dime Cufflinks, $60
    2. Tiffany and Co. Bull and Bear Cufflinks, $140
  • RedEnvelope Checkers, $50:
    This unusual checkers set includes 24 zinc alloy game pieces - bulls and bears of course! - and a 12-inch-square, stainless-steel game board.

    True Money Gifts

  • Uncut Currency:
    Hanging in Martin's office is a framed sheet of 32 crisp, uncut one-dollar bills. (A sheet of 32 $1 bills from 2003 costs $50). You can buy sheets of any bill in a variety of sizes from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Visit the bureau's gift shop in Washington D.C., or log on to MoneyFactory.com
  • Shredded Currency:
    This may be Martin's favorite gift of all, because he says it's a real "bargain" - A five-pound bag of shredded bills costs $45, and is guaranteed to hold a minimum of $10,000! For more information, go to Oldcash.com
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