It’s Your Money Column – Shopping for Smart Holiday Gifts Without Leaving Home

It’s the last minute and you’re just beginning to think about gifts. Instead of jostling through a crowd trying to buy something – maybe anything – consider giving a gift that encompasses current events, economic terms, risk concepts and an understanding of how to build wealth: Think about giving an investment. If funding an investment is a little out of your price range, teach someone how to make good investment decisions instead.

For general information about investing, try the online Money Magazine site at This link will take you directly to the investing lesson in Money 101. After reading the top things to know, try out their calculators. If you’d like to know how to become a millionaire, fill in the boxes and you’ll learn how many years it will take before you accumulate $1,000,000.

Mutual funds are good investments for beginners because there is so much information available. To learn specifics about mutual funds, try the Mutual Fund Education Alliance Center at In their library section, try "Kids and College" with an extensive list of topics including "The ABCs of Investing and Top Ten Tips for Investing for Children." Other sections in the library include "IRA Center" and "Tools & Calculators."

From the MFEA home page, you can identify mutual funds for $50 or less. This category generally refers to funds with a low initial investment but you agree to continue to make contributions on a set schedule through the year. A search for these funds identified 482 no-load funds with no redemption fees.

Another MFEA search looked for funds that had a $500 or less initial investment but no ongoing contributions. This search identified 289 no-load funds. One example from this list is a high-yield bond fund with an average 10.46 percent return over a five-year period.

Another well-respected source of mutual fund information is This is a subscription service but you can try out a free subscription for 14 days. To use the trial subscription, you’ll have to give your credit card number and then cancel within 14 days. Their information is more complicated than other sites but more comprehensive. I looked up the high yield bond fund I mentioned above and found that it had outperformed others in the same category. The minimum investment is $500. The analyst report warns that one of the key advisors had just left the company which could affect future performance. This is the type of quality information you will get, plus much more at Morningstar’s Web-based subscription.

Enjoy holiday learning!

by Judy McKenna, Ph.D., CFP, Family Economics Specialist, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension,, 491-5772