Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.
We have a tradition in our family that may sound familiar. On the day after Christmas, we go through all our presents and weed out the stuff we will never use – the knickknacks from Grandma, the horrifying sweater from Aunt Sue, and the book that Cousin Dave says is a must-read, but isn’t.
It’s sad how much money (and effort) we waste on gifts that are doomed for the closet, return counter or garbage can. On the flip side, there is no better feeling than to buy (or receive) the perfect gift – an item that will be used and cherished for a long time. The purchase of such gifts is worth every penny — even if they cost a few extra pennies.
Which of the following is a better value? A pair of jeans that costs $45, or a pair that costs $150? Clark Howard would probably have a panic attack if I even asked him this question. But let’s say you give your daughter the $45 pair. She smiles, says she likes them, and proceeds to wear the pants just 50 times before spending her own money to buy the pair she really wants. That works out to 90 cents per wearing. Now let’s take the $150 jeans. Your girl loves them so much she wears them 500 times before they wear out. That’s 30 cents per wearing – a bargain.
The following gift ideas are based on the same philosophy — things both giver and receiver will consider money well spent:
Apple anything: The iPod Nano is my favorite toy of the year. It’s ultra small, has a touch screen and will hold a ton of songs. The Nano is typical of the entire Apple product line. The iPod, iPad, MacBook, and iMac are all well-engineered, beautifully designed, category-leading devices. You can’t go wrong giving anything that comes in an Apple box.
Best-in-class products: Some manufacturers deliver Apple-like quality, which results in long-term value. Dyson vacuum cleaners, BOB strollers and KitchenAid mixers all carry hefty price tags. But they last forever, offer unique features and bring joy to their owners.
Boot camp: Why not give the gift of fitness? Boot Camp programs deliver motivation and results for less than the cost of a personal trainer and without frustrations of a gym contract. I signed up with Operation Boot Camp in March and I’m still going strong. Programs typically cost between $90 to $250 per month.
No more debt: Do you have someone on your list who is struggling with heavy debt? Consider paying off a chunk of that obligation. I can’t think of a better gift for someone.
Life Insurance: Are you married with children? A substantial life insurance policy is the best present you can give your family. It is truly the gift that will keep on giving if the unthinkable happens.
Babysitting: Getting some adult “alone-time” is critical for the sanity of all parents. If you are in a position to babysit, this makes a great gift. Husbands, wow your wives by pre-booking and pre-paying a babysitter for several dates over the next few months. It’s a gift you’ll both cherish.
Please share your gift-giving ideas –- or tell us what you bought in 2011 that you still consider to be money well spent — in the comments.
– By Wes Moss, for Atlanta Bargain Hunter