By Jeffrey Strain
Do you want your holiday gift this year to be remembered beyond New Year's Day? Then make your gifts to friends and loved ones useful this year -- give gifts that will save them money.
There are few people who don't appreciate something useful that allows them to keep more money in their pockets -- and there are quite a few options available to you.
Here are a few that you may want to consider:
Wine saver ($14.99): Is there someone on your list who enjoys wine, but is constantly pouring half-finished bottles down the sink because he or she didn't finish them before they went bad? Consider the Vacu Vin wine saver. It will keep an opened bottle fresh for two weeks.
Space heater ($15 to $100): Many people spend the majority of their time in one or two particular rooms in their house. If this is the case for one of the people on your gift list, a space heater may be the perfect gift. This will allow them to remain cozy and warm during the winter months without the cost of heating the entire house, which will keep their energy bill down even with higher fuel prices.
Filtered water bottle ($8+): If someone on your gift list insists on drinking bottled water due to concerns about the taste or healthiness of tap water, a filtered water bottle may be a perfect gift that can save them hundreds of dollars a year. If they travel or backpack, purchase an upgraded model with filters that are appropriate for these trips.
Key finder ($99.99): While this may not at first appear to save money, if anyone you know is constantly losing things and spending huge amounts of time searching for them, a key finder could be the perfect gift. Anyone who struggles to find items they misplace will love it. For someone who values his or her time, a key finder will save hundreds of hours in panicked searches; locating them will be as simple as pressing a button.
Wii (approximately $600): Not that you really need any reason beyond the fun that the Wii gaming system provides to all ages, but it can also be a big money saver. One of the secrets revealed when this system hit the market was that it did wonders for people who were getting little physical activity when they played Wii Sports. Nintendo saw the trend and extended the game lineup with Wii Fit. Now you don't need to pay for a gym membership, yoga classes or many other physical activities. Add the lower costs associated with being healthier and this can be an excellent gift for the whole family. Exercising was never this much fun or inexpensive.
TiVo (approx. $100+): For those on your list that love to watch TV, a TiVo can save the recipient money in a couple of ways. TiVo allows users to skip commercials and spend less time in front of the TV -- which, in itself, can save a lot of money. Watching shows at a convenient time rather than when they happen to be on can increase productivity. For those who have decided that TV is going to be a major part of their daily life, this unit can both save money and time.
Solar cooking oven ($249.95): This may be a great gift for the person that has everything. This solar hybrid oven can mean drastically reduced cooking costs, since it uses the sun's light to cook rather than your oven. What about rainy days? Not a problem. It comes with an energy-efficient, electric backup system that uses 75% less electricity than a standard oven. An added benefit: this provides an emergency way to cook food in case of a disaster and the perfect tool to take camping.
Electric razor ($30 to $200): The cost of razor blades make shaving an expensive daily grooming chore. A quality electric shaver can change that and eliminate those multi-dollar razor blade cartridge refills. Whether it's for a man or a woman, an electric shaver is bound to save them a small fortune over the years.
Emergency gadget ($20 to $40): Chances are, most people have a flashlight, a radio and a cell phone charger. The problem is they are all likely separate and require either batteries or electricity to run. An all-in-one emergency gadget will do away with the need for replacement batteries and in the case of an emergency, it could be a lifesaver.
Rechargeable batteries and charger ($20+): If you have no idea what to get someone, rechargeable batteries are a good default gift. Almost everyone has a large number of electronic gadgets these days, from handheld games to digital cameras, which require batteries. A good set of rechargeable batteries can save most people a small fortune over time.
By taking the time to think beyond the typical gift to things that are also practical, you can make a lasting impression. Best of all, when the recipient realizes the amount that the gift is saving them, they will love it even more.