Are you trying to give the budget conscious friend in your life something a little more exciting than cash? One option may be arranging a session for them with a financial planner. A financial planner can help your friend create a plan to save for retirement, start a budget, or offer solutions for their current financial issues. There are two kinds of financial planners: Fee Only and Commission Based. Fee only financial planners charge a flat fee or an hourly fee for financial advice. They do not receive commissions from mutual funds or other financial products that they recommend. Commission based planners receive a commission on the investments they sell, so they may be biased towards investments that will offer them a commission. A Fee Only financial planner is a good option if you're purchasing a session for a friend, since you're able to buy one session at a time and they're less likely to be biased. But make sure you ask how they're paid: One survey found that some planners that called themselves “fee-only” were receiving commissions on investments they sold.
Because a session with a financial planner can be pricey, Candice Choi at the AP recommends "pooling resources with friend or family" and asking if the planner offers gift certificates. You may also want to find free financial planning clinics that you could recommend to a friend. Add your recommendation to a holiday card and maybe a financial planning book, and you have a financially savvy, money-minded gift for your friends and family. To find free financial planning clinics, check the Certified Financial Planner Board website. The CFP's clinics only use certified financial planners and the clinics are completely free of charge.