If there's one time of year when people are apt to break the budget, it's Christmas.
Here are some gifts that at least stand a chance of nurturing the money-savvy gene. What's more, we have a gift idea for pocketbooks of all sizes.
1. One Antarctic Dollar ($1)
Giving cash is an old standby, but often not special. So what about beautiful currency from far-flung lands?
But there's a catch: "Our bills are not legal tender money of Antarctica or anywhere else," states the Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office, which controls the funny money.Consider buying Antarctica dollar bills, at one per U.S. dollar (plus shipping direct from www.bankofantarctica.com). These notes, produced to commemorate the centennial of the 1911 Amundsen expedition (the first humans to reach the pole), sport stunning pictures of penguins in their natural habitat, the Antarctic.
That said, the notes are redeemable one-for-one for U.S. dollars until their expiration date (printed on each bill).
2. Piggy Bank ($20)
There is a reason that piggy banks remain popular with young and old alike. They help make saving pennies, nickels and dimes easy, and—dare I say it—fun.
But why pay shedloads of cash for a fancy one—and violate the penny-pinching spirit—when you can decorate your own for less?
Instead, consider one with a chalkboard surface that you can draw on, clean and then redraw to your heart's content. There is a wide selection, including the CapitaLIST Pig. It's available from various web outlets, including Fab.com, Fancy.com and Amazon.com.
3. Vintage Monopoly Set from the 1930s to 1940s ($40+)
Who doesn't love playing Monopoly? The board game was born in the Depression years and provides instant lessons in how to make a buck. If regular Monopoly is fun, then surely a vintage set dating back decades has to be better.
You'll find buying an old or vintage set surprisingly inexpensive: You can get a used set from the 1930s for around $40 on eBay.com. You can also pay into the hundreds of dollars for mint-condition sets.
4. Sterling-Silver Tiffany Money Clip ($170 plus $30 to engrave)
Few things say "stylish, Old World gentleman" and "financial responsibility" quite like an engraved money clip. (Sterling means the silver is at least 92.5% pure.)
Expect this potential heirloom to get better with age as it develops a soft patina from rattling around your loved one's pocket. That "soft" shine comes from lots of tiny scratches in the surface of the metal. Make it extra special by giving an Antarctica dollar bill with it (see above).
5. Rare Economics Books ($7,500 to $10,000)
If you're willing to drop a small fortune, consider giving a rare and collectible economics book.
A 1936 first edition of John Maynard Keynes' classic "General Theory" will set you back around $10,000, says Matthew Raptis, proprietor of Brattleboro, Vt.-based Raptis Rare Books.
Of course, Keynes famously argued that government spending could rescue a flagging economy, a contentious assertion to this day.
If Keynes doesn't fit your ideology then try a first edition of Milton Friedman's classic, "A Monetary History of the U.S.," at around $7,500. Along with coauthor Anna Schwartz, Friedman gave birth to the monetarist school of economic thought. So-called free-marketeers tend to love Friedman and Schwartz.
Buyers of these classic texts are generally hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street executives, and they tend to favor Friedman over Keynes, Mr. Raptis says.