(TNS)—Stuffing cash in an envelope — or tucking it in a box of chocolates like my Dad used to do — can be a pretty great gift in many households. Unfortunately, some people do view cash as a tad impersonal.
Yet, there are plenty of other creative options for show-me-the-money gifts that can go beyond the usual U.S. savings bonds.
If you want savings bonds, Series EE savings bonds issued from November 2015 through April 2016 will earn a fixed rate of 0.10 percent — so they’re not all that exciting. Series I savings bonds issued during that time earn a composite rate of 1.64 percent for the first six months after the issue date — and a portion of that is indexed to inflation every six months. See www.treasurydirect.gov for how to buy savings bonds as gifts online.
But if you’re looking for other ideas, here are five on-the-money gifts:
––Ever think about five gold rings? You could dish out roughly $750 for five gold rings, according to the 2015 PNC Christmas Gift Index. The price for a simple, no-fuss gold wedding band is about flat from last year, according to PNC. (Granted, you could pay $700 or more for just one attractively designed man’s gold wedding band.)
But the price of gold has been trending down lately and was down roughly about 10 percent in late November from a year ago. Some think the downward trend will continue. Gold would start at around $128 for one-tenth troy ounce American Eagle gold coin as of Nov. 30, says John Abbott of Abbott’s Coins in Birmingham, Mich. But the price is consistently in flux.
Silver is a less expensive gift option. You can start out as low as $15 or $16 for a troy ounce for silver and “go up to a lot of money,” Abbott says. “There’s a wide range.”
What’s a “lot of money” for silver? One box of American Silver Eagles — 500 troy ounces of silver — cost around $8,800 in late November. The price fluctuates regularly throughout a day, too.
––How about a little financial drama? Pick up a gift card to a movie theater for the new financial thriller “The Big Short” or maybe even wrap up the Michael Lewis book of the same name along with a gift card.
The Michael Lewis book — published in March 2010 — is a riveting read on the subprime mortgage crisis and clearly walks the reader through such cumbersome topics as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps.
The new movie has an all-star cast including Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale. It focuses on how a few quirky characters spotted a crisis in the making years before the 2007-09 financial collapse led to huge layoffs, home foreclosures and government bailouts. The financial geeks took multimillion-dollar bets against Wall Street’s big gamble on subprime mortgage bonds early in the game, ultimately made wild money and have an incredible story to tell.
––Give someone a little financial wiggle room. Ever think of paying someone’s electric bill for a month? Or maybe buying them a week’s worth of groceries?
Sure, it’s practical. But it can be practically delightful to be surprised by extra breathing room in the family’s budget for 2016.
Or maybe pick up the cost of a chore — such as a month of maid service or lawn service.
––Wrap up a tiny piece of Wall Street. This holiday season, it is easier to buy just a small part of a share of stock in Apple, Nike and other popular companies.
A $50 gift card for Apple stock, of course, won’t enable anyone to buy one share of Apple, which has been trading around $118 a share.
––Gather your own change to buy a gift card. If you’ve got $25 or $50 in spare change sitting around the house — and many people do have that or more — you could consider visiting a CoinStar location to convert the change into a gift card for Starbucks or Amazon.com or Toys R Us. If you buy for a gift card, you do not pay a fee.
Some kiosks might give a physical Starbucks gift card but others issue a voucher that can be used when shopping online or in a store at that retailer. If you want, you can take the voucher to the store to get a plastic gift card. Retailers in the program include Home Depot, Sephora, Game Stop, Forever21 and Applebee’s.
Or if you’re feeling playful, just slap a bright bow on that jar of change and let someone else go out and buy the gift cards.
©2015 Detroit Free Press
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.