Gifts to Grow On

. April 30, 2019.
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7 Great Gifts For Every Child’s First Birthday That Keep On Giving

Here’s what I remember about my daughter’s first birthday: we made a big fuss. She had no idea what was going on. She was not even interested in the carrot cake I had made especially for her. What I wish I had realized instead is that her birthday was a big deal for us, but just another day in babydom for her.

Now that I’m older and wiser and my daughter is also older and more wise-cracking, these are the gifts I wish I had lined up for her on her first birthday instead of trying to impress upon her that her birthday was a super big deal. Implement as many of these suggestions as you can by the time your child turns one.

Savings Account. Whenever you get money gifts from relatives, put half of the money in your child’s savings account. Even though you think you need every kiddy gadget known to mankind when your child is young, you can often find items discounted or gently used for a lot less. You might even be next in line for a bunch of hand-me-downs from friends and family. So stash some of your child’s gift money now. You will be so glad you did later.

Name As URL. We are living in the digital age and life is only going to become increasingly online and virtual by the time our little ones become big ones. It’s nice to know your future celebrity or entrepreneur has digital security in the form of their name reserved online. How will they use it? This is a lot less important right now than making sure that the possibility exists. Don’t worry about hosting. All you need to pay for is the URL itself and the privacy to keep your personal information offline.

Safety Deposit Box. Savings accounts are a fairly vague concept for kids to understand. This is how they think: so, you want to take my money away from me and go put it in a boring-looking building where I can’t even visit it? This makes no sense to developing brains. But all kids innately understand the concept of treasure. And this is why you should have a safety deposit box. Take them to visit your family treasures once a year. Show them how you keep a little cash, some jewels, and copies of important documents there and watch their eyes grow wide with excitement every time you say it’s time to go to the bank. And then, while you have their rapt attention, teach them all the ways you use the bank to secure and manage your money.

College Fund. If you can put aside even just $50 per month, it will really add up over the years and make a significant dent in your future college costs. Better yet if you can start with $50 a month and inch that up as your child grows. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. All fifty states and the District of Columbia sponsor at least one type of 529 plan. For more information visit collegesavings.org.

Family Library Card. Your child may be too young for a library card in your town or county, but make sure you have at least one library card for your family. Having one card actually makes it easier to keep track of what has been checked out than multiple cards do. Take your baby to the library regularly for story time, puppet shows and other entertaining, educational events. As your child grows, introduce him to the various age-appropriate sections of the library. And don’t forget about the multimedia options both at the library and online.

Money Coach. Your child is probably too young to understand personal economics. How about you? If you are one of the many Americans who feel overwhelmed, inexperienced or uninformed when it comes to money management, let your baby be your wake-up call. You can either get yourself involved in money management coaching formally by searching for a certified coach online. Or you could swing by your local bank once and a while and ask your local banker for a little money-management advice based on how much you are earning and saving each month. Sometimes just having a neutral mentor to discuss savings strategies with can make a wealth of difference. Then, later, as your child grows, either coach your child on money management yourself or call on your trusted mentor to help you do the job.

Tax Expert. As parents, you can give thousands of dollars to your children each year without any tax consequences. Are you making sure that you are taking advantage of every tax-saving option available to your family? Furthermore, if you are overspending on taxes, that money could be going into your child’s savings or college accounts. Make sure you are working with the most reputable and vigorous tax professional you can reasonably afford to help your family legally save as much as possible on taxes.