If you know someone who is frugal, minimalist, zero-waste, or just practical, chances are you struggle to find them a gift that they will love and is consistent with their values. One thing everyone has in common is that we all love to save money. Gift cards are great, but I feel awkward exchanging envelopes during the holidays. Here are 10 gifts that people will love and can save them money.
I am ultra-frugal, minimalist, striving for zero-waste (though still have far to go), and unfortunately a little too practical. For these reasons, my mother finds it challenging to shop for me, and my husband and I stopped exchanging gifts decades ago. Here are some gifts that either I have used and loved or actually would be happy to receive.
Each of these gift ideas is consistent with my values, and saves me money.
Last Christmas we received this as a gift. Although we live in a warm climate, it did get quite cold. However, we never turned on the heat (saving us on our electric bill). Instead, we put this heater in the room that was being used. It worked perfectly.
During the Fall and Spring, I try to avoid using the air conditioner and use the windows and fans to keep us cool. So the fan function also helped us save money on cooling expenses during those months.
Finally, it’s also an air purifier. I love things that are multitaskers and can be used for a variety of purposes.
2. Coffee Pot and Travel Mug
If you know someone who buys fancy coffee every day, even just one cup at $3.78 will add up to $1,375.92 for 1 year. That’s $6,879.60 for 5 years.
Even a fancy coffee, latte, espresso, or other brewing device can save a lot of money on their favorite beverage.
My mother-in-law got us a coffee maker one year. My step-brother gave me a Contigo travel coffee mug another year. They were great gifts that we used daily for years to come.
3. Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker
Last Christmas we received this as a gift from my mother-in-law. We’ve written extensively about using the instant pot to make soup broth, rice, homemade marinara sauce, hard-boiled eggs, and chili.
In addition to saving time in the kitchen, it also allows us to save money by buying less expensive ingredients (e.g., uncooked rice, dry beans) when making healthy and flavorful meals at home.
My husband has been cutting his own hair since I met him 20 years ago. Back then, a haircut was $12 a month plus tip ($3). I’m happy to say that I have no clue what a haircut costs these days. But at even $15 a month over 20 years, he’s saved $3,600 just on his haircuts. He’s also been cutting our son’s hair for the past 7 years. That’s an additional $1,260 saved.
My family members each carry water bottles with us everywhere we go. Whether it’s to work, school, the playground, a friend’s house, or even out to eat, we always have water with us. If we run out, we can fill it up at a water fountain. Most restaurants will also give you water at no charge.
Carrying a water bottle can save $1.00-$3.50 on beverages with every meal. It also prevents unnecessary stops at convenience stores or the drive-thru due to thirst.
We used to buy reusable but disposable plastic containers to store food. They sound like a good idea. But they would get warped in the microwave and dishwasher. Not to mention the discoloration and build-up that they would develop (gross!). I found myself needing to replace them every few months.
Two years ago for Christmas, I requested glass containers (thanks Mom!). They can be used in the microwave, freezer, oven, and are easily transportable for potlucks or lunches. I’ve had my set for two years now. I use them daily and they are all still in great condition.
7. Bee’s wrap
This is a product that I haven’t tried, but as someone who does not buy plastic wrap, I’ve been intrigued by this product. It is reusable, compostable, and lasts about one year with regular use.
The warmth of your hands can be used to soften the wrap to mold it as needed. It can be used instead of plastic wrap to cover a bowl, or used to directly wrap around foods such as cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and bread.
Like the Bee’s wrap, I also haven’t tried Silpat but think it’s a fantastic invention. This reusable silicone baking mat replaces the need for oil, cooking sprays, or parchment paper. I love gifts that save money, but it also reduce waste.
One year for my birthday, I received colorful pots filled with different herbs. What a lovely gift!
Vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees are great gifts that also save money on food.
Despite the fact that I do not have much of a yard, there are a variety of edible plants that I do grow, including:
- bell peppers
Plants that can be easily propagated (such as succulents) are also a great gift. Although they cannot be eaten, they save money on home décor, craft projects, and gifts for loved ones.
10. 529 or prepaid tuition plans
With the cost of higher education soaring, there may be no better gift than contributing to your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew’s education fund. Not only is the cost of education rising, but on-campus housing costs are also skyrocketing and can cost just as much as tuition.
If your state has a 529 plan, as a bonus you may also be able to save on your state income taxes by contributing to that plan.
Instead of a toy that will be tossed in a closet or played with a few times then outgrown or broken, consider contributing to an education fund. Even small contributions today could end up saving hundreds or thousands of dollars in the future.
What gifts ideas do you have that will save your loved ones money?