Set Your Kids Up for Success by Gifting Stock

Steve McDonald
by Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

 

Transcript:

Here's a slap from the retirement belt. It's one I'm sure rings true across all parts of the country.

A close friend was venting to me the other day about his daughter and what he called her "complete lack of money understanding."

Before he even got started with the details, I asked, "Were we any different?"

He said, "Hear me out... She's getting married. My wife and I have offered them the option of a big wedding or a down payment on a house. We would even pay the closing costs."

OK, I know just about everyone reading this has either been in this position or knows someone who has.

His daughter, of course, said, "Oh, but we always dreamed of a destination wedding in Hawaii, a true paradise."

My first reaction was, "Hawaii? For God's sake, we live a block and half away from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Why are they going to Hawaii?!"

He said, "That's not my point."

I replied, "I know what your point is, but it is exacerbated by where we live. We could walk to the ceremony and stop at a few pubs on the way back. Now that's paradise!"

But she and her intended want to spend $30,000 or $40,000 on a one-day extravaganza.

One day!

Now, let's take a step back and think about what we were like back in the '70s. My wedding was two of my buddies from my squadron, their wives and the base chaplain. We didn't elope, but splurging made no sense to us. Most of my friends did go the big wedding route, and all of them regretted it.

Some of the feedback included... "It was exhausting," "I didn't know half the people," "We didn't have any time alone or with our friends" and "It was really about our parents' friends."

Also, the cost of a big wedding in 1975 - $15,000 - put in the stock market at 7% a year would be worth around $301,000 today.

So I think it's reasonable to assume, given the chance to do it again, that most of us would opt for the house.

But that's after 40 years of slugging it out in the world. That puts a different shine on a lot of things, not just one-day events.

So my question to him was this: "If you feel that strongly, why did you give them a choice?"

His answer was one we all have had to say at one time or another: "Well, you know my wife and my daughter..."

Enough said.

But an over-the-top wedding is just the start of bad money decisions when it comes to gifts. How about giving expensive cars for graduation?

The worst possible gift is a new car.

They rust, break down, eventually won't run at all and depreciate faster than a trifecta bet at the track. And in the end, they're worthless.

But it's done all the time.

If your kids won't go for the house, give them a gift that will ensure they remember you forever. And you'll know you've done a great thing for them (or your grandkids).

Gift them a portfolio of high-quality, dividend-paying stocks, and set it up so they need to have your approval or signature to liquidate it.

That's the way to get them investing. They'll see the market in action, and they won't be able to sell it all for a new car, a trip or anything short of a catastrophe.

They may hate you when they're young for restricting control over the sale of the stocks, but when they hit age 55 and the end is in sight, your name (and a thank you) will be on their lips every day.

Good investing,

Steve

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