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5 gifts that can save money for anyone on your list

Click to play video: 'Money123: How to budget for the holiday' Money123: How to budget for the holiday
In this week's edition of Money123, Erica Alini shares some tips on how to trim your Christmas – Dec 14, 2019

The best kind of gift is a thoughtful one, and what’s better than giving friends and family a new way to save money? From technological gadgets to personal grooming items, anything that helps your loved ones keep more dollars in their pockets is a gift that keeps on giving.

READ MORE: Gifts under $50 for everyone on your list

Here are a few ideas to do just that this holiday season:

1. A multi-cooker

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Whether you’re using the pressure-cooker function to whip up a fast meal or pushing the slow-cooker button before heading out to work in the morning, a multi-cooker can help you cut down your food bill. This kitchen gadget makes it much easier to tackle cost-effective menu options like roasts, stews and curries. A good multi-cooker will also tenderize a tough cut of meat, which means you don’t have to choose sirloin tip if you can’t afford it. And both in pressure-cooker and slow-cooker mode, the pot will handle dried legumes without prior soaking, meaning you can cross canned beans and lentils off your grocery list.

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While Canada’s Instant Pot remains the best-known multi-cooker, there are now several competing options in that category. Here are the product reviews from U.S.-based Consumer Reports (CR).

READ MORE: Top holiday tech gifts of 2019

2. A smart thermostat

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A programmable thermostat can shave up to US$180 (C$237) a year off your heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Star program, which rates consumer products based on their energy efficiency. That’s a savings of up to 20 per cent on the average American’s energy bill, U.S. data shows.

The idea is to let your home cool off a bit in winter — and heat up in the summer — when you’re away. If you’re gone for a good chunk of the day most of the week, having a heating and cooling schedule can make a big difference. For example, research shows that for every degree Celsius (1.8 F) you lower your thermostat at night or while you’re out, for a minimum of eight hours, you can save up to two per cent on your heating bill.

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While you can do that with a low-tech programmable thermostat, the “smart” version makes the process even easier. Users can control their smart thermostat through an app on their phone, including adjusting the temperature remotely and reviewing energy consumption statistics in real-time.

READ MORE: All the best gift ideas under $25

3. A safety razor

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Whether it’s your face or your legs, safety razors can deliver a remarkably close shave at a fraction of the cost. The vintage double-edge blades are making a comeback among hipsters along with a slew of other old-fashioned shaving products. Sleek stainless steel razors are also popular among zero-waste consumers fed up with sending disposable plastic shavers to the landfill. But grandpa’s shaving style, it turns out, is also budget-friendly. While it’s possible to spend upwards of $50 on a safety razor, Canadians can buy a pack of 50 blades for less than $15 on Amazon. That’s a bargain, especially for women, who can easily drop $25 on a six-pack of refills for a reusable plastic razor.

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And while the safety razor revival is more often associated with men, a traditional shaver with a longer handle lends itself well to women’s needs as well, according to Refinery29.

READ MORE: The ultimate holiday list for the nerd in your life

4. A shoe-shining set

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Another old-fashioned ritual worth rediscovering is shoe-polishing. Dusting off, moisturizing and shining your leather shoes on a regular basis will significantly prolong the life of your fancier footwear. A shoe-polishing set should include a horsehair shoe brush, a leather cleaner, a leather conditioner — which helps prevent creases and cracks — and shoe polish, according to Wirecutter. For buffing, though, all you’ll need is an old, cut-up cotton T-shirt.

Needless to say, your leather loafers will last a lot longer if you avoid wearing them outside in the snow. Still, if you do end up with salt stains on your footwear, the best way to remove them usually involves white vinegar, a soft cloth and a lot of elbow grease, according to Esquire.

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READ MORE: Top trending, best selling gifts of 2019

5. A French-press coffee maker or stovetop espresso maker

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Railing against the cost of store-bought lattes has become a personal finance trope. There’s no denying that daily caffeinated indulgences can have a significant impact on your bottom line. But a fancy coffeemaker that feeds on pricey pods may not save you that much money, either.

A French press is a much more effective way to trim down your coffee budget. An added bonus is portability, which means you can keep one at work and avoid any unsavoury office brews.

If you’re an espresso lover, consider a stovetop coffeemaker like a Bialetti. The two-piece whistling coffeepot is many Italians’ go-to for a mean cup of Joe and will make for a statement piece in your kitchen.

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