Category Archives: Product & Service Reviews

Giving Stocks as a Gift

When I was growing up in the 1980’s, it was common to receive an EE Government Savings Bond for a gift.  My relatives would get them for me for my birthday, when I received a sacrament at church, or for a holiday gift.  At the time, I would have much preferred a video game or almost anything other than a savings Bond.

Looking back, my relative’s choice in gifts had my best interest in mind.  An EE Government Savings Bond was a prudent gift idea at the time.  Video games, toys, or even cloths wear out.  An investment, however, will grow in value.  It will provide the recipient with an even greater gift in the future.

As a Personal Finance Blogger, I have reflected on those EE Bonds that I received and wished that they were shares of individual stocks or a S&P 500 index fund that has a historical rate of return of 10%.  Many of these EE Government Savings Bonds that were purchased for me in the 1980’s had an interest rate of 6%.  Today, however, EE Government Savings Bonds only pay 3.5% if you hold them for 20 years.  I often wondered why more people do not buy shares of stocks or mutual funds as gifts for their young relatives or even other adults?  The best answer to that question is that it was once complicated to set up an investment account for another person.

There is now an easy way to purchase shares of stocks or ETFs as a gift for other people and even children under the age of 18.  The company that made this possible is called StockpileStockpile allows people to go online and purchase a gift card that is redeemable for shares of a publicly traded stock or an ETF.

Physical gift cards are sold in values of $25, $50, and $100.  E-gift face values can be any dollar amount up to $1000.  There are gift cards for shares of Facebook, Google, Nike, Amazon, and many other companies.  My favorite option is that there are gift cards for shares of ETFs from Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and Vanguard.

There are different ways to purchase gift cards from Stockpile.  A physical gift card can be purchased online or off the gift card rack at supermarkets or other retail stores.  There is the option to purchase an e-gift.  There is also an option to purchase stocks or ETFs for yourself.

Stockpile makes it easy for a minor to be able to own shares of stock or ETF.  If a gift card is purchased for a minor, an adult must be named on the account with them.  Minors can place trade that go to a parent/adult for approval.  The minor simply is named as the beneficiary until they reach the age of 18.

After reviewing Stockpiles website, the fees are fair considering the option of being able to now give the gift of stocks to another person with ease:

For an e-gift of stock: $2.99 for the first stock + $.99 per additional stock + credit/debit card fee

For a physical gift card: $4.95 to $7.95, depending on the face value of the gift card

For yourself: If you pay with cash, trades are only $.99, If you use credit $.99 plus 3%

For those who receive the gift card: Free to redeem, link to a bank account, switching to a different stock when redeemed, or re-gifting

After doing some research, Stockpile has received mostly strong reviews.  Consumer Reports, a source that I trust, stated that merging stocks and gift cards was a good idea and that it can have an impact on Kids.  Reuben Gregg Brewer from Seeking Alpha gave Stockpile a less favorable review because of the fees compared to what brokerage houses now charge.  Those brokerage houses, however, do not offer the ease of being able to simply gift a few shares of a stock or ETF to another adult or minor.

In my opinion, I like that Stockpile makes it easy to give the gift of stocks or ETFs to others.  A close friend of mine is expecting to have his first daughter in the next few weeks.  I purchased a gift card for the Vanguard 500 ETF as a gift for his daughter.  It will not mean anything to their little girl after she is born, but I bet she will be happy when she turns 18 and takes ownership of those shares.

Please remember to check with a financial professional before you ever buy an investment and to read my Disclaimer Page.

My Kayak: Frugal Fun on The Lake

They say that a boat owner has two happy days.  The first happy day is when they buy their new boat.  The second happy day is when they sell it.  That is based on the initial elation of having access to many bodies of water that are otherwise not available without a watercraft.  The costs tied to boat ownership, however, eventually erodes that elation over time.

I have nothing against boats.  My friend has a bass boat.  I have spent countless hours in his boat fishing at local lakes. My relatives also have a pontoon boat that they keep on a Lake in the Poconos.  The pontoon boat is great for parties on the water.

I was once planning on buying a boat.  I wanted a boat because I wanted to be able take my wife out to the lake on our schedule.  I do not want to have to rely on anyone else’s availability.

When I first started looking at small boats, I stumbled upon kayaks.  I was intrigued.  They seem small enough to store in my garage, be transported on top of our Subaru Forster, and looked like they would be great fun on the water.

The more I read, the more interested I became in these small boats.  They provide exercise by paddling. They allow you to get into shallow spots where large boats cannot go.  They are also super stable and many models are designed for standing while casting.

As a member of the Financial Independence community, I do not rush into purchases.  I researched kayaks for a few years.  I finally decided to pull the trigger and made the purchase after renting a kayak when we were on vacation on a lake in Stowe, Vermont.

After much research and comparing prices, I purchased the Wilderness Systems Commander 120 Angler model.  It is a sit-on-top kayak that resembles a canoe.  It was purchased at an end of summer sale for $950 with free shipping.

This kayak is designed for fishing.  It has a ton of room for my tackle bag, a cooler, and comes with three rod holders.  In the stern of the boat there is also a large area for cargo.  The seat is adjustable and provides comfort for many hours while on the water.  It is also super stable.

Unlike a boat, I can take the kayak in hard to reach spots.  I can go in shallow water, swamps with over grown vegetation, and over submerged trees that would have broken the prop off an outboard or trolling motor.  Those hard to reach spots tend to be nice hiding spots for big fish because they don’t see too much boat traffic.

I also purchased the Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 model for my wife.  Her Kayak is a sit-inside kayak that is designed for recreational use.  She uses her kayak to tour the lake and for relaxing on the water.  I purchased her kayak as a Christmas gift and paid $750 during a cyber Monday sale.

While the initial cost is not exactly cheap, it is much cheaper than if we decided to buy a boat.  First, we would have had to purchase a larger SUV or pick-up truck.  A used boat would have been at least a few thousand dollars more than we paid for the kayaks.  The boat would require an outboard or electric trolling motor to operate.  Plus, storage, trailer tags, maintenance, and boat registration fees.

After comparing the cost of the Kayak to a boat, the Kayak truly a great value.  Our total cost for the two kayaks, oars, PFDs, and a few accessories for fishing cost about $2500.  If I had to buy a truck and a boat, the cost would have been at least ten times the cost of getting started with a kayak.

Even though we had to spend some money to buy the kayaks, it was money well spent.  We use the kayaks during the spring, summer, and well into the fall.  We use them almost every weekend if it is not raining or we have a family event to attend.

As far as upkeep goes, it has been almost none existent.  We have had them for 4 seasons and the only part that had to be replaced was a handle on mine that cost $14.  Other than that, there is truly nothing else to break.

As I previously wrote, I have fished from a boat for years and will continue to do so when I go out with my friend.  I will also continue to enjoy the pontoon boat for family outings.  I won’t, however, have the expensive upkeep that comes along with boat ownership.  If you are frugal and thinking about how much fun a boat would be to own, consider looking at a kayak.  They are great fun at an affordable price.