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5 Unique & Frugal Christmas Holiday Gift Ideas That Help Save Money

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the surrounding months are all about shopping for cheap holiday gifts. But this year, instead of just looking out for ways to save money this holiday season for yourself, why not give gifts that actually help your loved ones save money on gifts as well?

Here are 5 of my favorite inexpensive, money-saving gift ideas that are sure to spread joy, as well as financial well-being:

1. The Kill-A-Watt Energy Monitor
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that up to 20% of our utility bill pays for what is called “phantom load.” Phantom load (also called vampire power) is energy that’s sucked away when your devices (laptops, DVD players, microwaves) are off, but left plugged in.

Want to know how much you are losing every night? The Kill-A-Watt Energy Monitor can tell you. This handheld energy monitor attaches to your appliances and measures exactly how much energy it takes to keep certain items plugged in, brew a pot of coffee, or vacuum your floors, and how much energy those appliances are actually sucking up every day. Once you know how much you’re paying per kilowatt-hour, you can figure out, in dollars and cents, how much each appliance is costing you. Then, you can check out some of these great ways to reduce your energy bill to save a ton of money.

2. Canning Supplies
I started canning for this first time this summer. It is so much fun!

Canning your own food is a great way to save money. But more importantly, I think, is how much you learn about the art and science of food preservation. If you have a friend or family member who is interested in learning how to can their own food, why not help them get set up with supplies?

You can find canning kits on Amazon, but right now is also a great time to pick the kits up locally because a lot of these items are on sale (since the growing season is largely over). Check mom-and-pop hardware stores for some great bargains.

I also recommend giving¬†Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving as a gift. I’ve used dozens of recipes from this book and they’re all stellar. Well, except for the Watermelon Rind Pickles!

3. A Great Book
Giving someone a personal finance book can really change their life. There are so many wonderful titles out there; it’s hard to pick the best one.

Right now I’m reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. It’s an incredibly useful and inspirational guide on how to declutter and organize your home so that you can live a happier, more rewarding life. If you know someone who’s addicted to shopping, or simply has too much stuff, then I highly recommend this book.

Another one of my favorites is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczn. I read this book and was blown away by her ingenious frugal tips. This book rocks.

4. A Great Magazine
I would love it if someone gave me a subscription to Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine. This magazine is chock full of awesome tips to travel cheaply on a budget, which is my cup of tea!

Giving a personal finance magazine is also a great way to help your loved ones save money every month for a whole year. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance or Consumer Reports is another good choice.

There are also some magazines, like Ready Made, that fuse saving money with DIY crafts and projects. There are tons of great projects in every issue that are fun, cool, and money-saving to boot. Definitely a favorite of mine!

5. Survival Seeds
If you have a friend or family member is all about saving money with a home garden, consider getting this person a variety pack of survival seeds.

Many people don’t know this, but most of the flower and vegetables seeds you buy won’t produce seeds that can then be replanted. They’ve been genetically engineered not to produce growable seeds (so the seed companies can make more money, of course).

This is why survival seeds (also called Heirloom seeds) are so valuable. These seeds are pure, which means the vegetables you grow will produce seeds you can dry and save to plant next year.

I garden with survival seeds and don’t have to buy seeds anymore. I’ve used seeds from Hometown Seeds and really liked how my veggies came out. There are plenty of companies online, however, that also offer survival seeds.

Do you have any great frugal holiday gift ideas? I’d love to hear your own ideas for gifts that help your friends and family save money!

(photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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