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Holiday Gifts That Keep Giving (and Saving)

When it comes to gifts for the holiday season, choose those that will save the recipient money.

We don't usually think about the long-term costs of gifts we give. With many people now trying to save money, make your holiday gifts more meaningful by doing so.

Many popular gifts drain money. If you buy someone an iPod, he or she will need to purchase music or videos. A video game console requires video games, of course. You do someone a double favor if you can find a gift that not only is something he or she likes but also a money-saver.

Many money-savers don't necessarily make good gifts. There aren't many people whose eyes will sparkle when they open up a pack of energy-efficient light bulbs, a programmable thermostat, rechargeable batteries or a water-conservation kit.

To make this happen, take an extra step and consider what costs or savings your loved one will incur. This is a wonderful practice because it's something you should consider for yourself when buying things. A little imagination helps. Here are a few examples:

New appliances: It's not always wise to wait until appliances die to replace them. Improving technologies make newer appliances more energy-efficient. Surprising your spouse with a new EnergyStar-rated washer, dryer or refrigerator may seem like a huge, unexpected gift, but it can also save hundreds of dollars over its lifetime.

Books, magazine subscriptions: If you know someone who loves to read, tons of personal-finance books and magazines exist to help him or her get a better handle on money. For others, cooking, home improvement and other how-to books or magazine subscriptions may be right. They explain ways to do it yourself and save money in the process.

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