6 gifts that give beyond the holidays
For scores of Bankrate readers, it's the season to save money. We asked you to submit holiday money tips, and you sent a stocking full of great ideas for giving on a tight budget.
Following are some of our frugal favorites among your suggestions. We like these ideas because they show that simple, economical gifts can have an impact that lasts far beyond the holiday season.College savings accounts
My husband and I have two nieces and two nephews, all ages 6 years and under. Several years ago, we opened college savings accounts for them rather than getting toys or clothes. We contribute $50 to each account and have no fuss with holiday shopping.
-- Joan and Randy Oscarson
Year of free meals
My 94-year-old mother-in-law doesn't need more "things." So, for Christmas last year, we made up a coupon booklet with one coupon per month (decorated with appropriate clip art) to be redeemed for dinner with us at a local restaurant. She is thrilled that we have committed to take her out for dinner once a month, in addition to the regular holiday meals we share during the year.
-- S. Lea Lowe
Health care for the homeless
Last year at the office, I sent an e-mail to my colleagues that in lieu of getting them gifts, I would make a pledge to a local charity in their honor. My company is in health care, so I pledged money to a local agency to provide medical care to a homeless person living here in the nation's capital. This gesture seemed very much appreciated when I did it last year -- so I plan to do it again.
-- Carol Sardinha
This is a great one for grandparents -- I take pictures of my children and make bookmarks out of them. On my computer, I put several small pictures into a strip and print them out on photo paper. Then, I take them to a print shop to have them laminated. Grandma loves them! She can easily show off pictures to friends. Bookmarks are easy to mail with Christmas cards, too.
-- Phebe Wall
Memory in a frame
Take a photo of a loved one, choose an appropriate size and purchase a suitable frame. Give the framed photo to that person or someone else who would cherish the memory you have captured.
-- Jo-Ann Raines
All six of our children are married with kids. To make the holidays affordable, gifts are given family to family on a rotating basis. Each year, each family gives to a different one of the sibling families and then gets from another one of the siblings. Everyone agrees what is fair and keeps to that budget. This has been going on for 10 years and all like it.