Fiscally Responsible Gifts That Truly Last a Lifetime

As a seasoned financial adviser, it should come as no surprise that knowledge is power -- and that helping your loved ones live the best financial life possible is the noblest gift of all.
12/13/2012 01:37pm ET | Updated February 12, 2013
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FILE - In this May 9, 2012 file photo, a Visa credit card is tendered at opening of the Superdry store in New York's Times Square. Americans boosted their borrowing in August by the largest amount in three months with strong gains in the category that covers auto and student loans and in credit card debt. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Are there truly gifts that last a lifetime?

No matter what the state of the economy, nearly all of us wonder what will make for the best gifts this holiday season. iPads for kids? Gift certificates for mom and dad? These are all well and good -- but what about giving a gift that provides genuine value beyond the latest trends? Is it possible to indulge in a bit of retail therapy while still making your purchases count?

Yes, it is!

We've all heard the quote, "The best gifts are tied with heartstrings." Well, if you want to give a gift that keeps on giving, think about what would really enrich your loved ones' lives. As a seasoned financial adviser, it should come as no surprise that knowledge is power -- and that helping your loved ones live the best financial life possible is the noblest gift of all.

Here are some ideas to help your loved ones get a leg-up this holiday season and set them on the path to a solid financial future.

Gift Ideas for Teens: Survey after survey have proven that teenagers are lacking in financial literacy. This deficit can lead them to take out student loans they don't understand and fall into credit card debt after turning 18, as well as not understand the general value of money. Start educating them now! The Motley Fool's Investment Guide for Teens is a great resource, and is written in a style that will hold your teen's attention in what can be a rather dry subject, at least in their eyes!

Furthermore, to encourage your child to open an IRA account, it makes sense to match their contributions, even if it's only a 50 percent match on the dollar. Your son or daughter should be incentivized because of the instant match, and will be more likely to save -- rather than spend -- their earnings in the future!

Gift Ideas for Young Professionals: For those who are heavily focused on their careers, why not gift a free consultation with a financial adviser or a career coach? Then, perhaps even a life coach consultation, which can help you discern the next step in their life's journey.

Finally, I wouldn't feel right discussing ideas without also providing some money-saving tips for holiday shopping. Attempt to determine how much you can afford to spend before hitting the malls, if possible. Avoid the temptation to open store credit cards that carry high interest rates or other exorbitant fees, and don't be afraid to return items if you find a significant price differential at a different retailer.

Lastly, Standard & Poor's Guide to Money & Investing is one of my favorite guidebooks when it comes to personal finance. I've recommended it to many clients in the past, and love how it provides a brief but thorough overview about personal finance and investing. The same goes for Zac Bissonnette's How to be Smarter, Richer and Better-Looking Than Your Parents, a fun read on how to avoid common financial pitfalls many young people encounter after their college years.

Gift Ideas for Mom and Dad: Many of us are living longer than ever, which makes taking care of ourselves of the utmost importance. For less than $50.00 per year, you can give your parents a subscription to the Harvard Health Letter and the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, which will provide them with invaluable information about health, medicine and how to live the best life going forward.

The holidays might just be my favorite time of year. That said, I've always looked at gifts as an opportunity to improve the lives of those closest to me in unique and long-lasting ways. It's better to give a thoughtful gift that leaves a lasting impression, than an expensive one that's soon forgotten!