This year instead of giving random gift cards or sweaters that will linger in dresser drawers, think about giving a gift that saves money. With the economy tight, jobs scarce, and money crunched and budgeted to the last dime, gifts that save money all year will be doubly appreciated by their recipients.

TUTORIAL: Investing 101

When thinking about gifts that save money, think practical. Products for home improvement, saving water, saving energy or saving at the grocery store will keep "giving" back.

Programmable Thermostat
Controlling the temperature in your home throughout the year (heat and A/C) can save you hundreds of dollars. Programming the temperature to be comfortable when you are home and reduce usage when you're away is a practical and easy way to save on utility costs. The thermostat costs about $30 at a home improvement store; installation if needed, is an additional cost. It is an inexpensive gift that can save hundreds of dollars all year. (For related reading, see 5 Tips For Saving Money On Wedding Gifts.)

Water Purifier
Bottled water is costs more per ounce than gasoline. A 15 ounce bottle of water in a vending machine costs $1.00 on average, or five cents per ounce. The price of gasoline on average is $3 per gallon or two cents per ounce. If you multiply that by the day, that is an expensive drink of water. An average water filter for the kitchen faucet is simple to install, costs less than $35 dollars, and the filters, which cost between $8 and $11, will last three months. Plus, your gift recipient will be keeping a few hundred plastic bottles out of a landfill. If you add a reusable, washable sports bottle to the gift you'll be saving him or her even more money.

AAA Membership
Who hasn't sat in a parking lot and heard that dreaded "click, click" sound of a dead battery? Giving an AAA membership is a practical gift that can save all year by not only jump-starting a dead battery, but offering your gift recipient discounts on trips, car rentals, discounts at many retail outlets and discounts on insurance. Membership prices depend on your location, but typically are between $60 to $70 per year. There are several levels of memberships available. (For related reading, see Top 5 Easy Saving Tips.)

Personal Finance Books
If you have people on your gift-giving list that are young and starting out, middle-aged and planning for the future, or more mature and seeking retirement guidance, there are great books to help all of them. A number of financial "gurus" have books that can help nearly everyone at every stage of their life learn to take charge of their financial well-being. Author Dave Ramsey has taught many how become "debt free," Suze Orman gives hard advice that will help achieve goals, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko can teach you how to be "The Millionaire Next Door," and don't overlook Clark Howard and his money saving techniques. Any of these books make great gifts that will teach financial responsibility, give money guidance and help save money all year long.

Kill-A-Watt Energy Monitor
With ever increasing energy costs, anything that helps teach you how to reduce your energy consumption will help save money. One of the coolest gadgets out there is a "Kill-A-Watt-Energy Monitor." You attach the monitor to any appliance in your home and it will tell you how many kilowatts that particular item is using. Even when an appliance is turned off, if it's plugged in, it is using power. It will be very surprising what appliances use the most energy, even when not in use. Giving this can help reduce energy consumption, thereby saving money all year.

A Few Quick Gifts That Save
Here are a few quick gifts ideas that will save without breaking your own budget.

Reusable Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags
can be bought at most larger retailers like grocers and Walmart. They can be purchased for as little as 99 cents each. A few retailers, like CVS, give customers a card that can be "punched" that will give customers savings discounts whenever they present their "green" reusable bag.

Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries cost a bit more at purchase, but can help you save in the long run. Most electronic devices and toys require batteries, and replacing them throughout the year can cost well over $100. Rechargeable batteries save money and save the landfill.

Fluorescent and LED Lights
Fluorescent and LED lights use nearly two-thirds less energy than regular light bulbs, are significantly brighter, and, according to Consumer Reports, will last nearly 50-times longer than incandescent bulbs. Just remember to put a "do not shake" sticker on this gift.

The Bottom Line
While these gifts may not receive the "oohs and awws" of others, they are practical, needed and will help to save money all year. With money tight, the economy stagnant and everyone needing to save money, these gifts will be appreciated and you'll be thought of each time someone turns on a light. (For related reading, see 4 Types Of Gift Giving That Will Leave You Broke.)

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  2. Budgeting

    The Hard Way We Pay For Convenience

    Convenience is a luxury. However, any cost-conscious individual should be aware of these ridiculous ways we pay for convenience and how to avoid them.
  3. Budgeting

    How to Cost Effectively Spend on Baby Clothes

    Don't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
  4. Personal Finance

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  5. Budgeting

    6 Cost-Effective Tips for Raising Your First Child

    The excitement of welcoming your first child to your family shouldn't prevent you from making good cost-effective decisions.
  6. Budgeting

    5 Ways to Date on a Budget

    Dating on a budget doesn't have to be boring. Try these 5 tips to find the best dates on a budget.
  7. Budgeting

    7 Kids Items You Should Never Buy Used

    Buying secondhand items is a great way to save money, but these seven kids items should not be bought used.
  8. Investing

    10 New Apps That Help Budget For Expensive Cities

    From platforms for saving money to those that account for side jobs, mobile apps are changing spending habits and income generation in urban areas.
  9. Budgeting

    How Cooking At Home Can Save You Real Dough

    Cooking at home saves time and money but most importantly, it could even help lower future health costs.
  10. Home & Auto

    Why Housing Costs Shouldn't Exceed 30% of Your Budget

    Financial experts will argue that there’s no problem with allocating 50% of your net income to housing, but that barely leaves enough money for living comfortably. Reducing housing expenses to ...
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!