Building a gift guide for the personal finance community—a community where half of the time, gifts are typically reduced or forgone altogether—is a weird beast, pals.
But since I’ve been thinking about it for a while, this year is the year I got my act together and actually did it.
Here are 12 gifts that you can either give to the personal finance nerd in your life, or give as the personal finance nerd in someone else’s life. Some are both! (Because there’s nothing more frugal than a multipurpose gift, you know?)
And unlike most of these guides, this isn’t a nebulous list of ideas and concepts. Sure, some of them are a bit more vague, but there are actual things you can wrap in here, if that’s what you’re into.
Pre-S. Anything marked with a * is an affiliate link, so I’ll get a teeny commission if you buy it, at no cost to you!
For the person who still thinks investing their money is going to be way too hard (or for the new parents who haven’t set up an RESP for the same reason)
Yes, I’m minorly obsessed with Wealthsimple*, but it really is about a zillion times easier than you think “investing” is going to be—and you can give the gift of investing with their new gift cards*. They start at $50, and whoever you’re giving them to can experience how easy redeeming them, and starting to invest, is from the comfort of their couch. (Plus this is the only gift that will get more valuable over time, unless you’re like, giving them v. fancy Lego they’ll keep in its original packaging.)
For your early-20s sibling, cousin, friend, or random acquaintance who would “never” read a personal finance book
Erin’s book, Broke Millennial*, is my new go-to for anyone’s (especially any millennial’s) first foray into personal finance. It’s very choose-your-own-adventure, so they won’t get overwhelmed, and she drops some serious wisdom for every point of your financial journey. I learned a thing or two!
For the person who needs a bit of Cait Flanders’ wisdom in their life, plus a lot of tracking their spending
I did Cait’s Mindful Budgeting program over two years ago, and I still use the things I learned on a really regular basis. If you know someone who could use Cait’s totally-approachable advice on budgeting, plus a way to keep track of their spending on a regular basis, you can grab a Mindful Budgeting Planner for 2018 here (it’s half-planner, half-get-your-budget-in-shape course).
For the Toronto- or Vancouver-based millennial in your life who thinks they’re never going to be able to buy a house
I will admit that no, I have not read this one yet, and yes, I did buy a house, but everything I’ve heard about this book is amazing, and I fully agree with the concept. Home ownership is not the only path to wealth, and it can be a majorly flawed one at that. Grab this book* for any committed renters in your life—they’ll love that it’s specifically speaking to their financial situation.
For the person who wants to make a statement with their coffee mug
There are a lot of different designs available, but these three are my favourite mugs available at The Financial Diet’s store. I got the “Talk About Money” mug in this design last year for Christmas, and it’s a regular feature of my at-home coffee routine.
You could even up-level the gift and include a french press, if you know they need a kick in the pants to do a bit more at-home coffee and scale back to fewer lattes (never no lattes, but I can get into fewer lattes). I have this stainless steel one* after sacrificing multiple glass ones at the altar of my inherent clumsiness.
For the 30-something who’s just starting to look at their money and is totally overwhelmed with how much they need to learn and do
Listen, no one thinks that reading about insurance is going to be easy or fun, but Preet Banerjee somehow made it both. This book is a must-have* for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed at the amount of financial stuff they have to tackle, and it gives you clear, concrete steps to take in the face of what can seem like way too many financial options (and it makes it really easy to know which financial products you need, and which ones you can take a pass on).
For the person who wishes they could go stock up on bulk savings, but wouldn’t really use a Costco membership
Maybe they don’t live near a Costco, or maybe Costco just happens to be the cheapest place to buy one big thing they’re looking to pick up. Whatever the reason, you can actually spend a Costco gift card whether you’re a member or not, and you can use it to buy anything in the store. For bonus points, especially if they’re a car-free human being, add in a voucher for one free round-trip car ride to Costco for when they go to spend their gift card.
For the committed over-shopper in your life (but only one you know really, really well)
Now, don’t show up with this book out of the blue, because it’s a… let’s say, sensitive gift to receive. But if you have a best friend, or a really chill close relative, who could use a guide to doing a serious closet purge, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up* is the bomb dot com. It got me to give up things I thought I’d keep forever that I didn’t even use or like anymore.
For the person who constantly complains that food is way too expensive
Good food doesn’t have to be expensive, and one of the ways you can help someone realize that $$$ doesn’t equal taste is by gifting them the Budget Bytes cookbook*. If you want to amp up the gift, toss in a set of reusable containers to help them store their leftovers* and/or pack their lunches* for the week.
For the person who “has everything”
Nice socks. Unless they’re already a Sock Person (in which case you would have heard about it already, and been made to admire all of their new-and-fancy socks on a daily basis at the office) socks are pretty low on the list of things most people will buy themselves. Get them a pair or three of really nice, warm socks this winter—I’m partial to the Kirkland brand of wool socks (they’re so stretchy and warm!) and these classic wool socks from Province of Canada, that feel like someone hand-knitted them just for you.
For the person who loves to hear a good story (and is cool with delayed gratification)
I just really like Cait’s stuff, OK? I cannot wait to get my hands on her new book, which you can pre-order right here*. Since it won’t be released until the new year (January 16th, specifically) you can write down the gift in a unique card, like these ones from Maker House. No offence to Amazon, but that’ll be way better than a print-out of the pre-order.
For the side hustler or small-business owner in your life
The book that made the biggest impact in my life in the past year is Profit First*. It completely changed how I handle my business finances, even as a side hustler who isn’t pulling in the big bucks. It scales up or down to be applicable to any business, and is accessible enough that everyone will like it—even if they aren’t usually into reading about business finances.
If you want to level up the gift a bit for side hustlers, toss in a Passion Planner. It’s the planner I use to keep my tasks as organized as my finances, and it’s specifically great for people who have work AND second work to manage: the bottom of each page has two to-do lists, so you can keep your tasks organized.
Sure, one of them says “personal,” so I guess if you have a ton of personal errands, that works too.
Looking for more great personal finance gift ideas?
I asked my amazing friends on Twitter to send over some great gift ideas, and they very much delivered. Check out this thread for even more great ideas!
And if you’re really, really stuck on gift ideas for the personal finance nerd in your life, just ask them. They will happily share which gifts, if any, they’d really appreciate this year!