Financial-themed gifts will probably wane this holiday season as many struggle to forget a bad year economically. However, some laughs and utility can be gained from a financial gift this year. If not, you wouldn't see people walking around in "At least my broker's broke, too" T-shirts. We'll look at the top five financial gift ideas for 2009.
A Share Certificate
Whether for a child, relative or friend, a printed share certificate can be a great gift. Stocks aren't as cheap as they were earlier in the year or in 2008, but printed shares are more about the visual appeal than sales. If you want to go the extra mile, Lehman Brothers and other now-defunct stock certificates are for sale on auction and collector sites. (If you've discovered some old shares in bearer form, follow our tips and find out what they're worth in Old Stock Certificates: Lost Treasure Or Wallpaper?)
- Lehman Brothers Memorabilia
In addition to stock certificates, financially inclined people may find joy in owning an authentic Lehman Brothers item. Ebay lists authentic items ranging from black lacquer pens to vintage Lehman Brothers serving trays. One of the more interesting pieces found was a 2008 third-place award won by Lehman Brothers in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. (Lehman Brothers survived many financial crises in the company's long history. Find out what finally drove it to bankruptcy in our Case Study: The Collapse Of Lehman Brothers.)
- 5,000 Yen
As the U.S. dollar continues to slip on worries about inflation and the deficit, the Japanese Yen continues to see an unwanted rise in its worth. Euros and even Canadian dollars would do, but there's something impressive about a bill with "5,000" printed on it.
- "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" (1936) by John Maynard Keynes
Who would have thought that John Maynard Keynes would make a comeback? Keynes' economic theory is in vogue with the Obama administration and thus has become important again. Keynes will be a must read for the foreseeable future. To balance out the Keynesian viewpoint, however, consider the much briefer Economics In One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. It's a book that has unfortunately been passed over by the White House reading club. (This rock star of economics advocated government intervention at a time of free-market thinking. Learn more in our article Giants Of Finance: John Maynard Keynes.)
- An Audio Subscription
Subscriptions and books often go unread when given to busy people, but with the advent of iPods, many books and some financial papers can be downloaded in audio form. Many financial magazines, shows and papers have podcasts as well as paid subscriptions for more in-depth content. Right now, Amazon-owned Audible.com is the leader for all sorts of audio books. Hazlitt is available, as is The Wall Street Journal - though not Keynes' "General Theory".
A Sense of Perspective
Whether over eggnog or Schnapps, the best financial gift you can give to others or yourself is a sense of perspective. There is no doubt we are in a hard time and more lie ahead, but we should always remember that financial security is only one small part of happiness. Don't let the economy ruin time with your friends and family this year. If you can laugh at the situation, do so. Life is much more than the value of your portfolio.