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Financial Focus / Frank Wallington: On Valentine’s Day, financial gifts can be sweet

Valentine’s Day is almost here. This year, instead of sticking with flowers or chocolates for your valentine, why not give a gift with a future? Specifically, consider making a meaningful financial gift.

However, a “meaningful” gift doesn’t gain its meaning from its size, but rather its impact. What types of financial gifts can have the greatest effect on the life of your loved one? Here are a few possibilities:

• Charitable gifts: Your valentine may well support the work of a variety of charitable organizations. Why not give to one of them, in the name of your loved one? Not only will you be helping a group that does good work, but you may also be able to receive a tax deduction for your contribution, assuming the organization qualifies for tax-exempt status. And if you give financial assets, such as appreciated stocks, you may also be able to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the donated shares.

• IRA contributions: Many people don’t contribute the maximum annual amount to their IRA (which, in 2014, is $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older). While you can’t directly contribute to your valentine’s IRA, you can certainly write him or her a check for that purpose.

• Gifts of stock: Like everyone else, your sweetheart uses a variety of products — and he or she might enjoy being an “owner” of the companies that produce these goods. You can help make that happen through gifts of stock in these businesses. A financial adviser can help you through the straightforward process of buying stock and transferring it to another person.

• Debt payment: Consider volunteering to pay your valentine’s car payment, or credit card payment, for a month, and then encouraging him or her to put the savings to work in an investment. The fewer debts we have, the more we have to invest for our future.

• Life and disability insurance: Quite frankly, life insurance and disability insurance do not sound like the most romantic of Valentine’s Day presents. And yet, if your valentine is also your spouse, your purchase of life and disability insurance may actually be one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give. Of course, your employer may offer some life and disability insurance as employee benefits, but this coverage may be insufficient for your needs. After all, if something were to happen to you, your insurance may need to provide enough income to pay off your mortgage, send your children to college and perhaps even help pay for your spouse’s retirement. As for disability insurance, many employers’ plans are quite limited in what they provide, so you may need to supplement this coverage with a separate policy. And the possibility of incurring a disability, even for a short time, may be greater than you think. In fact, a 20-year-old worker has a three-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration.

As you can see, you can choose from a range of financial gifts to brighten Valentine’s Day for your loved one. So, consider the ones that make the most sense for your valentine and start “wrapping them up,” so to speak.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial adviser. Frank Wallington is a financial adviser with Edward Jones of Westerly, 401-596-6100.

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