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In fact, when polled, most people say they'd prefer cold, hard cash. In a recent Charles Schwab survey, 53 percent of people said cash to help pay off their credit card debt would be their top gift choice. More than three-quarters of teenagers also picked cash as their most-wanted gift, according to Ebates.com. But there are better ways to give financial aid for the holidays than handing over a stack of bills, say experts.
Diamond said she often gifts shares of mutual funds to her nieces and nephews. Savings bonds or matching contributions to a young worker's Roth IRA can also help set them up for a better financial future. (Check out the video above for more gift ideas.)
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Even though you're not braving Black Friday crowds or comparing sales, it's still smart to plan ahead for financial presents. Some states allow tax deductions for gifts made to a 529 plan, but contributions can take time to process, said Diamond. Making the gift after you've alerted the recipient on Dec. 25 doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.