Reduce your holiday stress and stay on track financially during the giving season with the Morgan Stanley Gift Guides for a Better You, a Better Future and a Better World.

From healthy eating to healthy financial practices, our best habits are often put to the test during the fall and winter. For many of us, it’s especially hard to stay on track from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. We find ourselves out of our routine and spending time with people we may not get to see very often. And, so, in a quest to make the holidays “special,” we can end up stretching gift budgets, foregoing monthly savings contributions, and racking up credit card debt—and then spend too much of the new year getting our financial house back in order.

So what if this year, we focus less on the season’s must-have gifts and more on sharing things that will last and do some good: smart, value-based financial behavior? Whether it’s keeping your own goals in sight, imparting the wisdom of financial awareness to another generation or donating to those in need, often the best gift to give yourself, your loved-ones and others is financial stability and know-how. 

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Give Yourself the Gift of Less Stress

“There is so much pressure to get everything done, right at the end of the year,” says Sara Cetron, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley Investment Solutions. And, notes Cetron, who works with both Financial Advisors and clients, that stress cuts across the generations. In fact, a recent Healthline survey1 found that 61% of Millennials, 65% of Gen Xers, and 62% of Baby Boomers felt stress during the holidays. The top stressor? Finances.  

Whether you are single, are raising young children or have grown children and grandchildren, the pressure to buy gifts, host gatherings, cook elaborate meals and travel is real. Yes, all those activities can bring you joy, but they may also mean unplanned expense.

Morgan Stanley’s Gift Guide for a Better You can help with advanced planning tips, including ways to get a full picture of your expected costs—at the holidays and beyond—and strategies to ensure you are pacing toward longer-term financial goals.

Give Loved Ones the Gift of Financial Knowledge

Instead of just giving cash or the latest gadget, consider sharing the gift of financial knowledge with your loved ones. There are myriad ways to do this, whether you want to teach younger family members the importance of philanthropy or help teens and college student become more financially literate. And it’s a gift you can give year after year, starting with simple concepts when children are young and building on that knowledge through the years.

For some families, just starting the conversation is the hard part. In one survey, only 23% of kids said they frequently talk to their parents about money.2 The stats on the parents’ side are similar, with 69% of parents saying they are reluctant to talk about money with their kids.3 The hesitation often comes from parents’ own uncertainties—so in addition to giving your kids the gift of financial know-how, it can also be a gift for yourself.

Morgan Stanley’s Gift Guide for a Better Future can help you and your loved ones begin this critical dialogue and develop better money skills that transcend the season. These skills can last a lifetime.

Give to the Causes and Organizations You Care About

Consumers spend a staggering $13 billion on unwanted gifts each year.4 “We all get an extraordinary amount of gifts at the end of the year that wind up going in the back of the closet,” Cetron says. One survey found that 31% of people don’t remember what gifts they received last year.5 Moreover, all that shopping causes anxiety, with the same survey finding that 51% of people experience holiday gifting stress. “People feel obligated to recognize a friend or family member during the holidays,” Cetron says, but there are ways to do that without a trip to the mall or loading up an online shopping cart.

Supporting the people and causes you care about, for example, can make your holidays more meaningful—and free you from the hassle  of picking the right color and size. Approach your philanthropy in a strategic way, Cetron advises, by defining a clear mission and a set of relevant, concise goals.

Charitable giving may also be a way to reduce your tax burden at year’s end. For example, consider setting up a Donor Advised Fund. You may receive an immediate tax deduction this year for your contributions to a Donor Advised Fund, and you’ll have the flexibility to decide over time, when you’re ready, which charitable organizations to support.

Morgan Stanley’s Gift Guide for a Better World can walk you through various strategies that help you give to the people and organizations you care about most while also helping lower your tax bill.

Want more help tailoring a specific plan to help you reach your financial goals? Connect with your Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.