Support Marketplace

Decorations adorn a large Christmas tree.

We get way more questions than we could ever hope to answer, so that's why we created the lightning round. Five minutes of personal finance, and we're tackling questions about gifts, donations ... a bit of holiday spirit in the shape of stocks, bonds, IRAs, and college savings. This week, we're joined by Ben Johnson, host of Marketplace Tech.

Gene says his girlfriend recently set up a brokerage account, and he wants to give her a hundred shares of a stock we both invest in as a gift. Are there any taxes associated with giving a gift of stock? The current market value of the stock would put it at around $2000.

Carmen: "First of all, diversify and not just own one stock. Beyond that, there are some tax implications on financial gifts, but the max for 2013 is actually $14,000 before you have to report it to the tax man. So that's your exclusion. For information on 2014 and beyond, check out irs.gov."

Read more on gifting stocks

Erin through our Facebook asks, "What's the best type of account or best way to set one up so family members can contribute to it?"

Carmen: "That would be a 529. Those 529's, consider those the IRAs for college education. And not only can multiple family members put money in there, but should that child not use the money [and] there's a sibling, the sibling gets to use the money. Go to savingforcollege.com for free info."

Aries wants to know what's the best way to give a college fund to her brother's kids?

Carmen: "Open a 529. Family members can open a 529 for other folks. So that is awesome. And if you start it, you can even ask the rest of the fmaily every year, that instead of buying, you know more plastic stuff, that they could actually put more money in that account. But you want to make sure that if they already have a college fund, that you talk to them about it and see what form it is. If they don't have a 529 and you don't want to open one either, just send them a check and say: 'Please put this into the college account.'"

More advice on 529 plans

Also from Facebook, Jennifer says her 11 year old son wants to get to know investing. She's thought about giving him a penny trading account with $100 in it, but doesn't know if that would really help him learn. Getting him one or two shares of a stock he likes would work, but what if it tanks? What's the best holiday gift to help a young'un learn something mama doesn't already know how to do?

Carmen: "You don't have to have money invested to learn how to invest. What you want to do is make sure he just has the basics ... you want to make sure that you also have him understand cash, credit, banking accounts, all of that stuff as well. If you want to fiddle around and you want to play around on the market but you don't want to risk real money, Marketwatch from wsj has a virtual stock exchange."

Other ways to encourage kids to save

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.