smart spending

5 money gift ideas for the holidays

Pay off a specific debt
Pay off a specific debt

Have a close relative that recently lost a job? If the circumstances are right, you may be able to provide the most help and the best money gift by paying off a certain debt that person owes, says Carla Cargle, financial adviser and founder of Genesis One Wealth Builders in Sugar Land, Texas. Family members who are actively paying down high balances will appreciate your contribution much more than they would a fuzzy new sweater stuffed in a box.

To pay off a debt, find out which of your relative's accounts has the highest interest rate, suggests Scott Crawford, founder of DebtGoal, a personal debt management website. Then ask the recipient how to make a payment directly to that account. In most cases, you'll be able to send a check straight to the lender.

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