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No matter how spooky the economic climate may be, Americans still want a scare this Halloween season. The National Retail Federation estimates the number of people celebrating Halloween this year to hit 170 million with spending to climb to a record $8 billion.
With my first grandson recently turning 1, I thought about what tricks or treats I could share with him this Halloween. He will get his fill of ghosts and goblins hitting the streets and he doesn’t have enough teeth to work his way through a Snickers, I thought maybe I could do something different for him.
Jason Laux, a financial planner from Synergy Financial Services in McKeesport, Penn., suggested “instead of contributing to the age-old tradition of filling our loved ones with extra sugar and adding that last candy bar to the already overstuffed pillow case, why not take a break from the norm and offer a financial treat instead.”
Here are Laux’s five affordable financial tips for grandparents to look into for their little ghosts and goblins:
1. Save candy money and contribute to a 529 college plan. For as little as $25, you can help with the 'scare' of future college expenses with tax-deferred and even tax-free growth potential if monies are used to pay for future education. A 529 plan can be invested in a variety of ways including age-based models that start out more aggressive and become more conservative as freshman year approaches, to customized options that can be actively managed by a financial advisor. There are even plans that have no market risk and increase by the exact rate of tuition inflation each year. The savvy grandparent may even have a treat for themselves in this deal with a state tax deduction depending on a few factors like state of residence and the plan you choose.
2. Give them a ‘ghoul’den treat. Invest money in gold, silver or other metals to give grandkids a hedge on their saving against wild market swings and inflation. You can invest in metals by buying the physical asset in the form of coins from a reputable dealers, invest in a mutual fund or exchange traded fund that is either backed by a metal or metals, or invests in the companies that mine and process them. There is little fright in the price here as you can invest anywhere from a $40 silver coin to any amount that you can to help your grandkids come out ahead.
3. Decide 'witch' savings vehicle is the safest. How about bonds? Small investments as little as $50 here can take away some market fears by diversifying funds into a more stable option and provide a base to build on for many years. Bonds grow at a declared rate until maturity and can have various returns depending on the credit quality of the issuer, the maturity time and the type of bond.
4. Eliminate fear with an emergency fund. Many families are living in today's world without a savings or emergency fund. In any economy, let alone today's, it is paramount to have a safety net in place for unforeseen occurrences. Each Halloween, how about putting some extra cash into a savings stash instead of a sugar bash to provide grandkids a safety net? The money will grow slowly as rates are low but the principal is protected when using a FDIC insured Product like a bank money market or passbook account and there is always opportunity that rates will increase.
Lastly, even if you can't help but contribute to the candy feast, be sure to invest the one most valuable commodity available: yourself. Share your values, your legacy and your laughs that will undoubtedly provide the biggest dividends of all this Halloween!