I’ll admit that I’m not a great gift-giver, so I know how difficult it can be to pick out “just the right gift” at Christmastime for that special someone (ask my wife!). Moreover, how do we balance the spirit of generosity without selling out our crumb-saving principles? I’d like to offer a little help today for those of you still scratching your head about what to get that certain gentleman in your life.
Listed below are 5 gift ideas that I can recommend with confidence. Not just because they are items that should prove of financial benefit to the recipient down the road, but most importantly because yours truly has purchased and owns them himself! Hopefully you can find something that will be just the right fit for your guy friend. (If not, you can always buy him a gift card off Cardpool!)
If the gentleman you havein mind is a gardener or an aspiring one, seeds can be a great gift or stocking stuffer. If you’ve read my recent post on how gardening can save the crumbs, you already know how this gift will provide rich returns down the road. Remember that many of the common seeds go on sale during the spring, so make your gift special by getting him seeds that may be difficult to find or ones that can can be planted early for a jump start on the gardening season.
Electricity Usage Meter
This little contraption can be a a powerful and effective weapon in your fight to lower your electricity bill. Plug the device into the wall, plug your appliance into the meter, and it acts as a pass-through for the power while measuring your appliance’s energy usage. And not only does it calculate the current being drawn by the appliance, but it measures the actual amount of power used over time, giving you a clear picture of just how much juice that appliance is using. You can even program in your cost of electricity per kWh and it will tell you exactly how much that appliance costs in dollars to run! Man, I’m totally geeking out over here!
I used it to check the power of our upright freezer and was amazed to discover how much it was costing us. Plugged it into our fridge we got off Craigslist and discovered it was almost as efficient as a new one! This fairly inexpensive contraption has not only saved us money…it has helped us to make intelligent money-saving decisions (and come on, all men want to look intelligent).
Disclaimer: The lucky recipient of this gift will either love you for helping him save so much money or resent that he can no longer claim ignorance about his inefficient man-toys.
Here is the exact model that I use: Weanas Plug Power Meter.
Price: $20-30How did I ever live without wool socks?! For me, they are absolutely essential for outdoor activities where it’s cold, but are also great to wear around the house, allowing the heat to be set a few degrees lower inside. No one should need to endure winter without wool socks, as I know I wouldn’t be able to survive without them. So if you don’t know what to buy, why not give the gift of warm toes this year?
My trusty ol’ Timex wristwatch gave up the ghost a few months ago, so it was time to start hunting for a new one. I did some rough calculations and realized that throughout the past decade that I’ve had that watch, the amount I paid to have the battery changed was much more than what I had originally paid for the watch itself! I quickly decided that I needed to look for some alternative options that weren’t super-expensive upfront but also didn’t require the ongoing expense of changing the battery.
So I learned about solar watches. These watches have solar panels built into the watch face that recharge the battery inside, essentially making it unnecessary to change the battery for the useful life of the watch. (Eventually, the battery will wear out but it’ll probably be several decades in the future.) You already know how I feel about using the sun as a source of energy since we installed solar panels on our house, so using the sun to run my watch was a logical decision for me.
There are many options, but I really like this one that I ended up getting: Casio for $38.
All right, so this isn’t exactly a “frugal” gift idea, but for those really eager to impress a lucky gentleman, a programmable thermostat might be your ticket. Basic programmable thermostats sell for around $20 (like this one), but if you move up the technology ladder the smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat offer slick features that can help many people save money on their heating and cooling costs. Not only is this thing super awesome, but it also makes for a great conversational piece and is certain to impress all his other guy friends (well, at least I like to think it impresses mine).
The auto-scheduling feature learns your preferences and this is one neat way it is able to save costs without compromising comfort. It can even automatically detect when you’re away! But for me, the killer feature is the ability to control my thermostat through the Internet. For example, if I’m away on a trip and realize that I had set the temperature too high or too low, I can remotely change it from my smartphone app—even if I’m on the other side of the world! (This is especially nice if you want to turn the heat on before you get back so you don’t return to an icebox.)
Of course, at $250 MSRP, a Nest thermostat is not cheap and probably isn’t the absolute most crumb-saving way to reduce heating and cooling costs. But I doubt anyone will turn it down as a gift. 🙂
Remember Not to Pay Full Price!
If you choose to make these purchases on Amazon, remember that Swagbucks is a service that can help you earn free Amazon credits. If you’re shopping other retailers, BigCrumbs can net you rebates from most online retailers and Cardpool offers steeply discounted gift cards you can purchase to use for your gift purchases. Or, if all other ideas fail, you can just gift someone a gift card you got them from Cardpool.
I hope these ideas and my experience can help you in your unenviable position of picking gifts before Christmas rolls around. But I’m sure many of you must have other great ideas for frugal gift ideas too. Please share them with us in the comments below!
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