What gift comes in all sizes, your mother-in-law wouldn't dream of returning it, and you can never have too much of it?
It's not fruitcake, and it's not a cardigan. It's money.
Everybody likes money. But that's not the only savvy financial-related gifts that can suit everything from a shoestring budget to a bottomless bank account.
Here are a few ideas. Just remember, these are not your average stocking stuffers.
Money Masters. The gift of financial knowledge has a guaranteed return. The book, Money Masters by John Train, is a great one — it chronicles nine of the world's most renowned investors like John Templeton, the investment genius who bought stocks after World War II, and Benjamin Graham, the value guru and author of another must-read The Intelligent Investor. Price: Less than $20.
Fun and Games. Family game night is back in vogue. Nothing beats the great American classic Monopoly for basic lessons in real estate, taxes and general finance. Of course, there is the bargain-price edition, but there are also collector editions. Price: $12-$50.
Subscribe to Knowledge. Similar to a book about investing, a subscription to a financial magazine or publication like the Wall Street Journal provides key knowledge and constant information about the financial industry. Price: $19.95 for a magazine to $175 for a year's subscription to the Wall Street Journal or $145 for a year's subscription to Barron's.
The Price Is Right
Stock Up. Give a present for the future. Forget the hot toy for your niece or nephew this year. Buy him or her something that will instill the legacy of investing, while providing annual dividend checks that are sure to please. Do the same for your mother in law or uncle, by buying them stock instead of another sweater or tool belt. For kids, buy stock in a "fun" company like Hasbro or Toys "R" Us. For Mom, consider the high-end retailer, Neiman Marcus Group, spice maker McCormick, financial services provider H&R Block, bleach maker Clorox, or jelly specialist Smuckers. For Dad, try power-tool manufacturer Black and Decker, mutual-fund expert T. Rowe Price, battery-maker Energizer, or slot-machine manufacturer International Game Technology. For teens, consider diversified media company AOL Time Warner or beverage superpower Coca-Cola. Price: Less than $70.
Pass the Buck. Nothing beats good old American greenbacks. What cash lacks in the personal category it makes up for in the appreciation category. Price: We will leave it up to you.
Invest in America. Besides an American flag, there is not a more patriotic gift than a United States Patriot Bond this holiday season, and it's sure to "raise their interest." War Bonds have not been issued since World War II. But after Sept. 11, the U.S. Treasury issued these bonds as a patriotic gesture in response to Congress' so far unsuccessful bid for War Bonds. However, money from Patriot Bonds goes into a general fund and will not be set aside specifically for rebuilding or counter-terrorism. Price: $50-$10,000.