Q: For the holidays, I want to give money to my kids. But I don’t want them to spend it on just anything. I want them to save it or use it to pay off debt. How can I make that happen? — Dad
A: You’ve got lots of options for interesting holiday gifts.
“You can put up to $5,500 a year into an IRA or Roth IRA as long as they have the earned income of that amount,” said Brian Power, a certified financial planner with Gateway Advisory in Westfield, N.J. “These accounts are not meant to be accessed until after the age of 59½ and would be a wonderful way to start them saving toward retirement.”
You didn’t say how old your children are or if you’re a grandparent yet, but you could open a 529 plan in your grandchildren’s names.
“This is a very tax-efficient college savings account that would help them with the future burden of funding their child’s college education,” Power said.
You can also open a Roth IRA for your grandchildren.
If you want to be sure they use any gifts to pay down debt, you shouldn’t write a check to your kids. [Editor’s Note: Paying down debt could also be giving them the added gift of a better credit score if they’re missing payments or have a high credit utilization that’s dragging down their scores. You can see how these factors are impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.]
Instead, write the check directly to their credit card company or student loans, Power said.
With any of these gifts, you must keep in mind that if the gift is more than $14,000 in a calendar year, it must be reported to the federal government so they are made aware of it and can track larger gifts, Power said. Be sure to speak to your accountant if the gift will be larger than $14,000.
You may also want to consider getting them, as a gift, a sit-down with a financial planner. The adviser can help to set your kids on a smart path to build wealth over their lifetimes.
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