Christmas around the Hogan house is going to be a blast! I plan to spend time with each of my boys individually, and I can’t wait to break out our favorite games for some quality family time. And of course, we’ll open gifts.

During this season, I want to throw down a challenge. Don’t spend all of your money on toys, clothes and other stuff that’ll end up under the bed or in a donation pile. Use some of your budget to invest in the future of those you love.

Do Something Different

It’s time to think differently about your Christmas giving. Yes, you want to express your love to family and friends, but what if you changed the way you show that love? Let me offer this suggestion. Take just $20 of your budget for each person on your list (especially children!) and tell them you are putting that money away in a savings account for them. Then repeat this tradition every year. Over time, their money will grow and they won’t be stuck with pajamas they didn’t want.

Practical Example

Imagine you have two children (or grandchildren or godchildren), and when each was born, you began the practice of setting aside $20 at Christmas and putting it in a savings account. If you kept up this tradition until they turned 18, you’d have $360 for each of them. At their high school graduation, you’d give them $140, combine it with the $360, and take them to your financial advisor to invest that $500 in a mutual fund with an average 10% return rate. Over 50 years, that $500 would turn into more than $55,000! Not a bad way to spend Christmas money!

Raising the Bar

You could take this tradition to the next level by putting away $20 for birthdays, too. That $360 becomes $720, earning them almost $85,000 in 50 years! Now imagine if you asked family members to do the same. If just one person put away $40 a year (Christmas and birthday) into that account, it would top $1,400 at graduation. Invested over 50 years, those kids would have over $160,000 in a retirement account. That $40 investment makes a much better gift than that boy band T-shirt your daughter just had to have! You know the one I’m talking about!

What if you went crazy and set aside $50? And what if a grandparent or friend did the same? Your $100, plus a friend’s $100, would explode into over $400,000 at retirement. We’re talking some serious cash! What better gift could you give than a head start on saving and retirement? You might not be the coolest parent or grandparent on the block. You chose to look toward the future instead of at the latest trends. Those kids might not appreciate the gift . . . now. Believe me, though, they’ll thank you later.

Don’t Have Kids?

I know that some of you don’t have kids. But I’m guessing you have kids in your life—nieces, cousins, friends’ children, foster kids. You could be investing in their future. You could model healthy and positive money behaviors—a way of thinking and living they might not see anywhere else!

I’m challenging you to think differently about Christmas gifts—and giving in general. And I’m challenging you to behave differently. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the same result. Our culture is full of broke people who did what’s always been done. If you want to change your family’s legacy and your children’s future, do something different. Make your giving an investment, not just a last-minute trip to the dollar store.

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