Giving Gifts That Will Help Save Money

Why give someone an expensive diamond? All it does is lie there and look pretty and it won’t keep you warm in the winter months. While it might not seem as exciting or romantic, consider a few useful gifts that will help your loved ones save money this holiday season. makes a few useful suggestions on presents you can give that are practical for your home and will continue giving long after the festivities are over.

Programmable Thermostat: This works year-round to save money, by keeping it cool when you’re at home and reducing AC when you’re way, and works for heat as well. At a cost of only around $30, its energy saving potential will more than pay for itself.

AAA Membership: Banking on the kindness of strangers for a jumpstart or hoping a tow truck won’t cost too much can be a thing of the past with an AAA membership. Sure, it’s the opposite of romantic, but your loved one will thank you when they get stranded in an empty parking lot.

Reusable Shopping Bags: Great stocking stuffers and super cheap, giving these will not only instill a sense of doing good while shopping, but will benefit the environment as well. Some retailers like CVS even offer a discount for shoppers with their own bags. Everybody wins!

Gifts That Help Save Money [Forbes]


Edit Your Comment

  1. t2fastspin says:

    Diamonds. She’ll pretty much have to.

    • JeremieNX says:

      I like this. A like it indeed.

    • MutantMonkey says:


    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Eh. If my husband gave me diamonds, all he’d get was a night on the couch. He knows how I feel about blood jewelry.

      • DariusC says:

        I thought blood diamonds were the ones that people killed each other over in the mines in Africa? Or are diamonds now referred to as “blood jewelry”? I could swear there was a history to that term…

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Another excellent reason to avoid relationships. If you’re the man, you’re pretty much paying for it, so go to a hooker instead…way cheaper than a diamond…and as a woman I’d be offended as hell if I was suddenly expected to perform an act that, at least to me, is pretty vile and repugnant because someone gave me a bloody rock.


  2. mearow says:

    AAA is expensive. See if your car insurance has roadside assistance package first.

    • webweazel says:

      Agreed. My car insurance has a roadside assistance portion that is a few bucks a year.

      One other thing, a few of my national “reward” credit cards have the same thing, surprisingly. Check the fine-print benefit descriptions of any cards you may have, it may be there.

    • longfeltwant says:

      I consider that statement to be the auto-service equivalent of comparing McDonalds to a five-star restaurant. Yes, they both serve food. No, they are not equal.

      • mearow says:

        Really? We used both AAA and USAA and both are similar in service. Only USAA is $8 a year. You don’t get the discount and the maps.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        my insurance and my credit card offer roadside assistance. AAA plus offers “continuous tow” where if i break down at 4 am on a saturday night they will take me and my car home and then come back and tow the car to the mechanic on monday.
        plus there’s a AAA car care center near me so if i have it towed there i get 10% off, and [although i have AAA plus for up to 100 miles of free towing] the regular AAA 3 miles free towing limit is suspended if i have it taken to a AAA car care center.
        yep, AAA is superior service

      • AliceAitch says:

        I wrecked my car outside of Vail in a snowstorm. My auto towing coverage through my State Farm car insurance sent a tow truck and covered the tow to Vail (couldn’t get back over the pass due to the snowstorm) and then covered the tow the next day back into the Denver metro area. I’m not sure that ranks as McDonald’s service.

  3. Darrone says:

    Shotgun. Keeps you from having to buy stuff.

  4. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    Gee, honey, a programmable thermostat. That’s way better than all those other presents I gave you hints for all year and was expecting……sorry, now I have a really bad headache.

  5. Grogey says:

    The low threshold for my comfort in my place is about 67 degrees. Its at the point I am usually upping the thermostat because im tired of being cold.

    The other money saving you could get someone would be a ceiling fan but because I am in an apartment I don’t have one and getting my landlord to install one would be pulling teeth. So when ever I am home I have floor fan that I can point up at the ceiling to get the same effect. Makes it so much more comfortable in the corners of the room where my computer is.

    • PHRoG says:

      Easy, buy one and install it yourself or have your handy friend do it. Really easy if you can operate a screwdriver and some pliers. Just replace an existing light fixture with it. Then take it with you when you leave and put the original fixture back. That’s what I do. ;)

      • Rachacha says:

        Yeah, but for most people, installing a ceiling fan, especially when you have to remove electrical boxes and install ones with enough mechanical support to hold the fan is a major job. To replace a fixture with a ceiling fan, you need to be comfortable with electrical, framing and drywall, and unfortunately one or more of the three usually scares most people.

      • RandomHookup says:

        As a landlord myself, I don’t want anyone messing with my light fixtures, especially if you have to watch a video to learn how to do it.

    • Grogey says:

      Im perfectly capable of doing it myself, heck I replaced my mercury based thermostat with a programmable myself. Its so easy even a mildly handy person could do it. (Almost said caveman)

      Getting involved with a ceiling fan though that’s another thing entirely especially while dealing with a rental. I really want my own house….

  6. CubeRat says:

    Not really a diamond lady myself, as I prefer emeralds, saphires, etc.

    However, if anyone who had planned to give a diamond gives a reusable shopping bag instead….they deserve to burn in HELL.

    I do however believe in giving useful gifts.

    • JoeDawson says:

      I bought my Fiance an engagement ring of a Sapphire surrounded by small diamonds, she loved it! Or at least she pretended she did over and over and over that night.

  7. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:


  8. iamjustjules says:

    Cash. Why spend my money when I can spend yours!?

  9. RandomHookup says:

    My utility will reimburse me for buying a programmable thermostat. Would it be bad form to claim the rebate and then give it as a present?

  10. Jules Noctambule says:

    I’d love a programmable thermostat, actually, but I’m unexciting like that when it comes to gifts. My husband bought me a garlic press last year. His female co-workers all assured him he’d be crucified for not bringing me some tacky designer handbag or whatever, but that garlic press was actually top on my list! I use a lot of garlic and cook at home often, so it really saves me time.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I wouldn’t mind a new garlic press either. I am a big fan of practical gifts. But nobody ever buys gifts for me, I just get gift cards to stores I don’t shop at or checks. But I send out thank you notes anyway. :-D

    • Rachacha says:

      I have purchased chrome car exhaust tips for my wife, along with a blender and a Crock pot. While none of there were very exciting, it is what she wanted, and she was very happy to receive them.

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        I make exciting things with unexciting pots and pans, so I love to see that hard-to-wrap shape under the Presentmas tree!

    • webweazel says:

      Yup. Gravy separator is at the top of my list this year. A potato ricer or food mill would be a nice treat, too.

      I’m looking at a portable hand-held scanner or new hard drive for my old computer as a “big” gift, which I will probably get for myself after the holidays.

      Ahhh, nice to see another good old practical chick like me around in the world, not a superficial, shallow, hollow shell of a female-type human being who only likes expensive shiny things because that’s what she is “required” to like.

      • Pixilox the Lock says:

        I’m another one of those practical chicks. I’m getting a nice saute pan, new knives and serving bowls. These things I appreciate more than a rock that sits on my hand.

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        The potato ricer is a great thing to have around! I find that it works so well for my purposes with things like tomatoes (and even large quantities of garlic) that I don’t really use my food mill as much.

    • Kuchen says:

      My husband is getting me a vacuum cleaner. I did make sure he knew that the only he was allowed to give me that as a Christmas present was because I specifically asked for it (and told him exactly which model to get). We actually did get a programmable thermostat last December, but we had just moved and decided to not buy presents for each other and just buy things for the house instead.

    • BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

      Practical over here too, my husband is pretending that my holiday “ammo can” is still a surprise. I do think he’s painting it to be my favorite color. We are whitewater rafters and ammo cans are cheap, indistructable, and waterproof vessels.

    • RedOryx says:

      Last year I asked for a crockpot. This year it’s a Keurig. The blender was about two years ago. I get it.

    • dolemite says:

      I bought my wife a Kitchen Aid mixer one year. She’d gone on and on about how she wished for one, all year. So I gave it to her, and she liked it, but she always gives me a hard time about buying a kitchen appliance for a christmas present. BUT…ever since she got it, she raves on and on about how much she loves it, and how it makes life so much easier, this and that. Confusing.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        She is entirely wrong for making fun of you for buying her the Kitchenaid Mixer. Entirely and 100% wrong. Kitchenaid Mixers are better than Tiffany’s.

        Especially if you went to the trouble to get it for her in her favorite color.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      whenever male friends ask me what i think they should get for their female significant others, i say “what did she SAY she wanted? get her that. exactly that” because i don’t know any women who mess around with mind games anymore hoping their partner will guess that they really wanted that necklace – they make a detailed list with internet shopping info and email it to “him.”
      if the lady includes the UPC # it’s safer to just go with that and not try to guess based on someone else’s advice

      • Rachacha says:

        Easier still if when she is at the store she just purchases it and hands it to her man saying I bought this for myself for Christmas, wrap it and put it under the tree :-)

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        I’ve been dropping heavy hints regarding a large box of sea salt caramels, but I’m not sure he’s picking them up! I got him a Dalek t-shirt; so far, I’m winning at Presentmas.

  11. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Of all the examples to use for a store that gives bag discounts, they choose CVS? Where you have to PAY for a little tag and make sure you have the bag with that tag in order to get the discount. And you are limited to, I believe, one discount per day. Yeah, great example.

    • mk says:

      I thought the same thing too. I use reusable bags but I will not pay CVS for the privilege of using them. Target on the other hand gives me a $0.05 back on every bag I use. I don’t really care if I get a discount or not. I just like not having plastic bags cluttering up my house cause I feel to guilty to throw them away.

  12. Tim says:

    Ugh, don’t get a AAA membership. As a member, you’re paying for lobbyists in Washington that promote sprawl, pollution, dependence on foreign oil and more. And they lobby against transit, rail, smart growth, etc. And when these lobbyists say they represent so-and-so million people who support their causes, that means you!

    Instead, get a membership to the Better World Club. You get most of the same benefits as AAA, without the lobbyists.

  13. The Lone Gunman says:

    All it does is lie there and look pretty and it won’t keep you warm in the winter months.

    When did Consumerist find out about my ex?

  14. ReverendTed says:

    “Weather stripping! How did you know? I’ve been losing 20% of my heat through doors and windows!”

    • ReverendTed says:

      Went ahead and posted, figuring I’d never find the actual quote from “The Critic”, but here it is!
      “Weather stripping! And I’ve been losing forty percent of my heat through corner seals and molding!”
      Oh, Internet, is there anything you CAN’T do?

  15. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Subscription to Consumer Reports maybe? Nah.

    The article says a water purifier, but a previous Consumerist article said to not give things that cost money (replacement filters). Also, a AAA membership would require renewal if they wanted to keep it unless you kept giving it every year.

  16. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    My Mom is perpetually cold, so I bought her an electric throw so she can be all nice and toasty while she watches TV and holds the cat.

    • CubeRat says:

      The cat thanks you. It will ignore you, but the throw is now kitty’s blankie.

    • AliceAitch says:

      You might also try an electric mattress pad. We LOVE ours. If someone lives alone, it makes a lot more sense to heat the bed at night and turn down the thermostat instead of heating the whole house.

  17. AllanG54 says:

    What…no SNUGGIES????

  18. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i love my programmable thermostat. too bad i have a dual stage heat pump and had to get a contractor grade one for $112. the inexpensive ones aren’t compatible. it might take a couple more years to pay for itself.

  19. Mike says:

    The last time we used AAA it costed us $150 more than it would have if we hadn’t used it. I won’t pay for a service that does nothing more than funnel our business to unscrupulous towers.

  20. dolemite says:

    My wife’s parents gave us a new fridge and oven for xmas last year. Ours were about 15 years old. I think it saves us around $10 a month in electricity.

  21. azgirl says:

    I have received the “gift of meat.” A freezer full of meat and potatoes and tarts. I am not sure how I feel about this gift yet. I had to throw out other food to accomodate this unexpected meat…

    Do other people get meat?

  22. gman863 says:

    If the recipient doesn’t already have one, a great gift is either a fire extinguisher or (if they have a fireplace or gas appliances) a Carbon Monoxide detector.

    Two gifts you hope they’ll never use, but something that can save their life if or when they need it.

    • webweazel says:

      Great ideas here.

      I should probably add–“and offer to install it for them.” It probably won’t help them much if they stick it on the shelf to install later and never get around to actually doing it.