Like my life in general, I've learned a little too late that April is "Financial Literacy Month" to make much use of it. However, in its honor, I'd like to offer a financial tip based on something I've realized of late. It's a very simple rule that will improve the quality of others' lives.
Don't buy kids toys for their birthday or religious holiday where gifts are exchanged.
Buy them U.S. Savings Bonds instead.
Here's the thing: when you're a little kid, you're basically stupid. You don't know what you want, or need, for that matter. The adults in your life will try to guide you on what you should want and supply you with what you need, but they too can be shortsighted.
If you buy a kid a toy, they'll probably play with it for a week until they're entirely bored with it. If it's a great toy, maybe a month. If it's a stupid toy (even though kids are stupid, they know the difference between a good and bad toy) it won't last a day. Before you know it, you're taking boatloads of toys (toy boats?) to Goodwill or Salvation Army, while your kid moves on ravenously to the next toy.
Then they get to their 20-somethings in an economic downturn. Not only do they not use any of their toys from childhood (if they do, well, you've got different issues than financial advice to work on), they also don't have any money. They might even get nostalgic and go to Goodwill and buy back their SAME childhood toys with money they don't have (i.e. your money). So what's the solution to all this?
Buy them Savings Bonds. From their first birthday until whenever you decide to cut them off. No, they don't rattle, flash, blink, stack, or should be used for teething purposes. Yes, the kid might accuse you later in life of a desolate childhood, having grown up in a house without disposable, germ-infested, toxic toys. But they sure will thank you when those puppies mature and they cash them in and make bank. It might even be enough to end your estranged relationship.
No comments, please, this one's a freebie for ya'll. Here's to financial literacy!