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3 financial gifts that are more fun than cash

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer
Source: Getty Images

Two-day free shipping has upped the pressure to really deliver this holiday season, given how absurdly convenient gift-giving has become.

But this year, why not forgo the materialism and dabble in a few alternatives that can grow? Yahoo Finance is not offering investment advice — just some creative substitutes for the conventional gifts you may be considering. We do not guarantee any return on investment.

Buy shares of a public company

How about giving someone a piece of their favorite company? Say, for example, your son idolizes Elon Musk despite the Tesla CEO’s mercurial nature. Or maybe your best friend owns a coffee shop and relies heavily on Square’s card reader for payments. Perhaps your mother-in-law is a self-proclaimed tech rejecter — except when it comes to Spotify, her go-to destination for entertaining guests with music over the holiday season.

Tesla (TSLA), Square (SQ), and Spotify (SPOT) are a few companies that let you buy shares in their stock within a matter of minutes. To do this, go to Stockpile, the only brokerage where you can give an e-gift or physical gift card redeemable for stock.

Unfortunately, as the gift giver, you’ll be charged $2.95 and a 3% fee, but recipients don’t need to pay anything to redeem the gift. Stockpile charges 99 cents per trade. The company creates a gift certificate and sends it to the recipient, who will have to set up an account on the site.

You can give up to $2,000 per gift, and the cards never expire. Most traditional brokers won’t allow you to do this, so this is a fun, exciting alternative to teach family and friends about investing and help them take part in the growth (hopefully) of their favorite brands.

Save, donate, or splurge

Goalsetter helps kids spend, donate, and save money wisely. Formerly known as Sow, it’s an interactive online savings account that lets people choose the kinds of presents they want to receive. Kids can “sow” their money in three ways: save for college or an investment account; donate to a specific cause or charity; or spend it on something on their wishlist. Though founder Tanya Van Court said she is targeting children and young adults, recipients range in age from 14 months to 42 years old.

Help your kids set up Goalsetter accounts and give them a seed funding of $20 or $50 dollars that they can allocate for something they really want — a new bike, for instance. In a sense it’s crowdfunding for big-ticket items that will last a while.

Invest in real estate

For the riskier (and wealthier) folks, real estate is always an option. Fundrise is a crowdfunding platform that’s attempting to get rid of barriers to entry for those who want to invest in physical property but don’t have the know-how or capital to do it on their own. The minimum investment is $500 and you can work with your friend or loved one to help set up an account. The company focuses on midsize assets, which it claims provide opportunities and better risk-adjusted returns (and is less competitive than large institutional properties).

Fundrise charges an asset management fee of 0.85% and an investment advisory fee of 0.15% annually. The company’s website states, “It would take approximately 40 years of index investing to equal the savings you get up front with Fundrise.” Still, real estate is typically a long-term play, and you shouldn’t expect a quick buck from this kind of investment.

The huge upside? You don’t need to be an accredited investor to get in on the action, thanks to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s Regulation A+, which allows small companies to offer and sell up to $50 million of securities over a year to non-accredited investors.

What got bumped from the wishlist — bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies have caused too much heartbreak in 2018 — and exuberance has certainly worn off. Though my colleague Rick Newman still attests that owning bitcoin has been fun, it’s a far too volatile journey for most.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm. She hosts Breakouts, a monthly interview series for Yahoo Finance featuring up-close and intimate conversations with today’s most innovative business leaders.

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