Editors' pick: Originally published Dec. 1.
It's that time of the year again when thoughts invariably turn to holiday gifts. In what has become an annual tradition, I have compiled a list of financially-themed items to suit all budgets, from less than $10 to more than $8,000.Chocolate Money ($10 or less)
Few things scream, "It's the holidays," like chocolate coins. You may know them as Hanukkah gelt. Maybe they've shown up in your Christmas stocking from time to time. Either way, when you've got 'em, they're hard to save.
I found half a pound of this "yummy money" on Amazon (AMZN) for around $10 here. That said, drug stores carry them for far lower prices. This year's 10% increase in gold prices doesn't seem to have had an impact.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham ($23 or less)
Benjamin Graham is often heralded as the father of value investing -- the practice of buying stocks that are priced below their intrinsic value. His philosophy inspired Warren Buffett, who.... well, you know the rest.
Anyone serious about stock analysis and investing should read this book. The revised edition includes commentary by Buffett and Jason Zweig, a personal finance expert (and former colleague).
You can get a copy direct from the publisher here and elsewhere.
Piggy Bank (around $50)
For many of us, a piggy bank was our first method of saving. While a bank account may be more convenient for large sums, there is still the meddlesome issue of what to do with all those coins. This little piggy solves the problem.
I found one at Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) made of pewter, and it can hold a decent chunk of change. The large version is 5 inches long and 4 inches wide. It will set you back $46.99; we'll ignore the fact that you will probably never save that much in loose coins. Here is a web link. A bonus is that it can be personalized with an engraving. (See below; Kelly's heart was surely warmed.)
Original Etching (around $200)
Financial markets, since their inception, have been a battle between bulls and bears. The challenge is to figure out who will prevail -- every single morning.
Artist Russ Spitkovsky has done a bang-up job of depicting this frenzied market melee in an original zinc etching.
The 20-by-25-inch piece sells for $100. Plus you should figure on another $100 for a halfway decent frame, which you'll need to buy separately. Not only will you get a stunning piece of art, but you'll be supporting a living artist.
The work for is for sale on the Carrier Pigeon Magazine website, which Spitkovsky edits.
One hundred shares of Exxon (around $8,700)
If you want to give a gift that keeps on giving, then some high-quality stocks might do the trick. My pick is Exxon Mobil (XOM) , which has weathered the drop in crude prices very well. The stock has a a dividend yield of more than 3%, and oil prices look set to trend higher, at least over the long term. If 100 shares is too steep for your budget, just buy 50.
The receipt for the shares might go nicely taped to a bottle of Mobil gear lube (around $12). Which also could be a well-timed investment if OPEC gets its way.