I'm hoping that my kids don't take a peek at my blog before Christmas. That's because I'm about to reveal one of the gifts that I'm going to give them.

I have two sons, 18 and 12 years old. For the 18-year-old, I'm going to give him a check to help him open his own IRA, or Individual Retirement Account. I wish something like this had been around when I was his age. Even if he doesn't make the maximum annual contribution of $4,000 (in fact, I'm sure he won't), at least he will be saving something. I'm hoping this initial contribution will get him interested in saving for his future. Of course, the payoff won't come for a few decades, but by then he will have enough to live a very comfortable retirement. As always, the key is to start early. Now that he is working and making his own salary, this is as early as he can start and there is no time like the present.

My 12-year-old son does not earn his own income, so he's not ready for an IRA yet. I'm going to get him started with I-Series savings bonds. The interest rate isn't what we would get with stocks, but I want to get him something that he will have to hang on to for a few years in order to see a return. It will get him used to the idea of investing. I'll be getting him savings bonds for birthdays and Christmases for many years to come.

Video games, IPods and toys will come and go. By next Christmas, they won't event remember which gadgets or games they got this year, but they will still have their investments. Those are the gifts that will keep on giving, for many years to come. Years from now, these gifts will be worth something. Their video games, on the other hand, will eventually be traded for something else at the Game Exchange.


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