WSJ: Five Gifts for the Financially Savvy

By SIMON CONSTABLE
This is the time of year when many of us buy loved ones a special gift. This is the fourth year I’ve compiled a list of suggestions, all with a financial theme. Think of them as reminders that we all need to be savvy about money. As usual, there is something for budgets small or large.
1. These days the stock market is all about numbers—profits, losses, gains and revenues, etc. But once upon a time, art was an important part of life on Wall Street. It came in the form of the designs on stock certificates.
“The Art of the Market: Two Centuries of American Business as Seen Through Its Stock Certificates,” by Bob Tamarkin and Les Krantz, presents a collection of certificates. Who knows, it may convert you to scripophily (stock-certificate collecting). It’s available secondhand for less than $10 or new for around $22.
2I’ve picked a different piggy bank each year, but all conformed to the traditional shape—a tubby, four-footed porcine figure with a coin slot (or slots) in the top. This year seemed ripe for something more sophisticated. That’s why I opted for Le Mouton Noir BB Piggy Bank, in either matte black or glossy white porcelain. In this case, the pig slouches upright, allowing a regal gut to sag forward. You can get one for $20 to $30 from Amazon.com and other retailers.
3. Get your sports fan a piece of history. It doesn’t need to be expensive. Sportsmemorabilia.com lists signed baseballs from the Phillies’ Mike Schmidt, the Orioles’ Cal Ripken Jr. and the Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith for less than $200 each. Such knickknacks may increase in value over time, but experts caution that monetary rewards shouldn’t be a primary motivation.
“The goal is to buy something you love and can appreciate for yourself; there is value in that,” says Brandon Steiner, CEO of New Rochelle-based collectibles retailer Steiner Sports. “There is stuff that goes up in value and some goes down.”
4. For the man in your life, nothing says sophistication—monetarily and otherwise—quite like solid-sterling silver bull-and-bear cuff links. Wear them with French cuffs and use them as a starting point for a discussion on whether you are bullish on stocks. They’ll set you back $495 at Nordstrom.
5. If you have a big chunk of spare change and want to give a present that keeps on giving, consider giving stock. “ Microsoft (MSFT) has new leadership and is taking some bold steps,” says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. The company has exposure to the growing “cloud” business, which Mr. Ablin says will continue to be an important market. It will set you back less than $5,000 for 100 shares, plus you get a healthy dividend (recently 2.6%) while you wait for the stock to appreciate.
For those with more risk appetite, try Google (GOOG). “There’s a lot to be said for betting on wildly successful companies that are still run by their wildcat founders,” says Alto, New Mexico-based investor Cody Willard. He sees more potential in the stock, but warns that it’s a volatile issue that can get hit harder than some others in turbulent times. Ten shares will cost you less than $6,000.
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