It's that time of year again... time for my gift guide. I was looking through my archives and I had one every year going back to 2007. The exception was last year where I was a little preoccupied with driving across the country with my wife in two separate cars, with a newborn and huge dog. The nightmares of use being packed in a hotel room with just essentials are finally starting to fade.
It's interesting to go back and look at my guides (like this one from 2007) and see me recommending GPS navigation as a "bargain" at $150 because I used to pay $400-$500 for it... and that was a big klunky box. I also mentioned that a flat-screen television can be a good purchase. I had to be apologetic because they were so expensive at the time.
As usual, I hope you'll find these products add a lot of value to your life.
For the Technology Lover
My background in computer science dictates that I love all things technology. So I figure it's best to start here.
- Tablets - Back in 2011, I suggested you wait to buy tablets. I felt that the iPad was too expensive and there was a new version coming out in the spring of 2012. The Kindle Fire had just come out and it was a low-end device trying to be a value play at $199. Nowadays you can get a Nexus 7 (16GB) for under $200. With a full 1080P HD screen and one of the fastest processors on the market, it's not low-end at all. If you need a little more space get the Nexus 7 (32GB) for under $240.
I'm an Apple shareholder, so please feel free to ignore this, but these are slightly less than half the price of an iPad Mini Retina. If you were to outfit a family of 3 or 4 you'll save hundreds going with the Nexus 7.
- Cell Phones - I was at a dinner last week and my wife friend was saying that he's buying iPhones for his daughters for Christmas. He lamanted that it was about $2000 for each considering the cell phone plans. I didn't have time to go into it in the conversation because it moved too fast, but I wished I could have pointed him to this article on the best cell phone and plans. (There are some very good notes in the comments too.) He could have cut his bill nearly in half. (Again, you didn't read this from this Apple shareholder.)
While this may appear to be an advertisement for Google, the phone and tablet really are some of the hottest, and best priced technology products. If you don't believe me, see the CNET 100 where they are #5 and #1 respectively this month.
For the Health Nut
- True Orange - I got a lot of comments about whether using True Orange at a restaurant was frugal or cheap, but one thing no one challenged me on - replacing soda with it. My wife has been pregnant or breastfeeding for about two years now (and rarely a day goes by that she doesn't remind me) with our second child due soon now. She's been trying to avoid chemicals during that time. She's mostly been limited to drinks with True Orange (or True Lemon), iced tea, and a small amount of coffee (trying to limit the caffeine as well). With our SodaStream we add it carbonated water making a refreshing flavored beverage for under 10 cents.
- NutriBullet - So readers might be surprised that I included this on the list after NutriBullet threatening to sue me when I wrote a positive review on their product. It takes a lot for me to hold a grudge (ahem MonaVie) and the truth is that I really like the product. Some fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and a little whey protein and you have something that competes quite well with Jamba Juice at a fraction of the cost. Lately, I've even been sneaking in some almond milk.
- Anker USB Wall Charger - It seems like more and more of my gadgets recharge from USB: tablets, phones, Awesome SanDisk Sansa Clip+ MP3 Players, battery chargers for power on the go. This gadget allows you to charge them all with one plug (you may need to order a pack of USB cords). It's great to travel with this one charger and not have to find a bunch of plugs in a hotel room. To keep everything neat, grab a Quirky Cordies Cable Management
For New Parents and their Baby
For the Handyman
- Fiber Fix - Fiber Fix is a little like duct tape, but put on steroids. I first saw this product on Shark Tank (you can see the impressive video here). The day after that appearance, they sold out of stock on QVC in 6 minutes. Their media team reached out to me to see if I would review it. They overnighted me the product... very cool of them. The only problem is that I can't think of anything to fix.
For the Man in Your Life
- Underwear - I'm serious... not joking a bit. I'm usually not one to pay $15-20 for a pair of underwear, but I've found the exception - ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs. With over 1200 reviews and a 4.6 rating on Amazon, you know it's a real deal. The reviews were so good that I picked up a couple of pairs when I saw a sale. In many of the reviews, men switched their underwear out to just wear these. I can see why. They take up very little space and you really can wash and wear them pretty quickly. This makes them ideal for travel. There were many stories of people who bring just two pairs to travel for weeks, one is washed and hung to dry while the other is worn. With our expanding family, suitcase space is going to be at a premium. The plan is to put these to the test along with their shirt, ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Tee, which I can confirm is just as good.
For the Woman in Your Life
I'm going to ask the readers for help on this one. I know what my wife likes, but I don't feel strongly about recommending Uggs at $150 a pair on a personal finance website. We got a great deal on Black Friday at the military commissary, but that isn't going help you. She also loves these KIND Nutrition Bars (I do too).
Finally, she got a cold recently and didn't feel like leaving bed for 36 hours. The savior was a Netflix streaming account. She watched the whole first season of Orange is the New Black. My favorite comment of hers was, "I wonder who is going to play me." (She worked at the same prison that the show is based on.)
Is there was one product that you wish you could share with the world (and don't tell me a Coke? Let me know in the comments.
(You may want to check back in a few days, because I have the feeling I forgot a few things.)
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