Gifts that Keep On Giving: Holiday Presents that Improve the Recipient's Financial Situation
For those of you that are financially conscious, or just like to get a good bargain, you’ve probably been carefully planning your holiday spending for a few weeks now. Scanning the weekend papers for good coupons, keeping an eye out for holiday-related sales and carefully budgeting how much you can spend on each gift to make sure you make the most of your money and avoid getting yourself into debt. I know some things that have worked well for me in the past include deciding what I want to get each person on my list before heading to the store (so I don’t make impulsive decisions while at the crowded malls) and start my shopping early (so I don’t feel rushed on Dec. 24 and end up spending more than I had planned).
But what about the flip side? Most of us have probably thought at length about how the holiday gifts we give impact our own finances (whether it’s in the budgeting stage, or after the fact when we get our credit card bill). However a recent article on Yahoo Finance made me stop to think about how the gifts I give this season may impact the recipients’ finances.
If you consider your finances to be in fairly (or really) good shape, it can be difficult to watch friends or family members make unadvisable decisions and dig deeper holes for themselves. However, it can be even more difficult to offer these close contacts advice without seeming intrusive or condescending. Perhaps the holidays provide the perfect opportunity to help out on this front, without hurting anyone’s pride.
The ideas given in Jeffrey Strain’s article referenced above range from $8 to $600 plus and run the gamut of the responsible (such as rechargeable batteries that save the recipient from constantly having to buy new ones) to the entertaining (such as the Nintendo Wii which can provide the recipient with home-based entertainment that is cheaper than going to an arcade and can even save them from having to join a gym). So while savings bonds and shares of stock might have been the first financially conscious gifts that came to mind, now-a-days you can be fiscally responsible and still get something the recipient will really like.
Maybe this also means we need to expand our view of what makes a good gift. Advertisements will lead you to believe the hottest new electronics or hippest clothes are what will make your friends and family most happy this holiday season. But I know I always welcome gifts that will make my life easier and leave me in a better position than I was before the holidays.