Home > Enjoying Life > Give assets, not liabilities this Xmas

Give assets, not liabilities this Xmas

Xmas 2010I’ve found a new weapon to battle the curse that tricks droves and droves of mindless consumers each Christmas!  It’s not a peppermint scented battle ax, or a read and white ray gun (though that would be festive).  It’s simply a new philosophy on how I choose gifts for the important people in my life.

I’ve already had the annual post-Thanksgiving conversation with my family, and it went something like this…

me – ” Why don’t we actually reduce the amount of stuff we buy each other this year because a lot of it ends up wasted“.

Everyone else – “Totally, that sounds great” (with their fingers crossed behind their backs).

Giving each other too much stuff at Christmas

In the past, I’ve just gone along with everyone and purchased items off their list that they may or may not actually want.  It’s a giant waste, but I love my family, so I’m happy to sacrifice if it really makes them happy.

But this year I’ve found a way around it!  It simply boils down to four words “Give assets, not liabilities”.  For these purposes, a liability is something that may cost the recipient more money in the long run.  An Asset can be defined as a gift that helps the giftee make money, reduce costs or aquire skills.

Let’s look at a few examples of each category.

Liability Gifts

A New Gaming System: I’ve lost track of the new gaming systems, but when you go to give your relative a Nintendo 12 (or whatever it’s called), please realize that you are giving them a liability.  Off they bat, they will need to purchase more games, controllers, and accessories.  Then, whenever a new game comes out, they’ll drop about $50!  You are helping them get poor!

A subscription to anything: Paying for one month/year of a subscription to a magazine, Netflix, or whatever.  It just makes it easier them to renew it next year and start owing somebody money that they never paid before.

Children’s toys that run on batteries: Eventually I hope we start only using rechargeable batteries, but for the moment, most battery toys have disposables that wear out.  This incurs on-going costs down the road plus batteries are an environmental pain to dispose of.  It’s not a huge liability, but if I had the option, I’d give assets.

A Kindle: This is an iffy liability.  It could be considered an asset because you can learn all kinds of new, profitable skills from reading books on it.  The issue is that since the library and Amazon don’t really play nicely right now, you have to buy your books to read them.  Since almost everyone has access to a library with pretty much the same books available, I have to put the Kindle in the liability category.  Each book your friend/relative purchases will make him/her that much poorer.

Asset Gifts

Energy Efficient light bulbs: I’m giving a few of my family members these light bulbs.  At $15, if you replace 60W incandescent bulbs, these will pay for themselves in under 2 years, and last much longer than traditional bulbs (20 years).  They will save your recipient tons of money and hassle.  It’s a win-win because you get to give them a fancy new gadget, and it happens to be an asset that will yield dividends for decades!

Cheese Making Kit: Although a cheese making kit didn’t make it onto my friend’s Christmas list, we spoke for a while on her desire to learn how to make cheese on her own.  I’m not sure if making cheese on your own actually saves you money (it probably doesn’t).  But I still count it asset because it will encourage her to learn a new skill.  Who knows what this might lead to?  making fancy cheeses for a party, a side gig, or maybe even a new career? It probably will just lead to some cheese one time, but the point is that she’d never get started if I didn’t gift her this asset.

Books on Economics or Personal Finance: I know a lot of people don’t like finance and economics, but there are so many different types of these books that you’re sure to find one that fits their personality.  Maybe it’s gloomy economics (The Big Short), Financial Independence (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), or behavioral economics (Freakonomics).  There’s one out there for everyone, and once you gift it to your friend or relative, they will start building their finance skills (whether they realize it or not), proving that it’s an asset.

Stocks or Mutual Funds: For someone who’s never really dipped their toes into investing, this can be a great way to help them get started.  They get to learn the ropes (like me) without having too much at stake.  Obviously, this isn’t right for everyone, but it could be just what a relative needs to start their journey to financial independence.

Hopefully I was able to provide a few asset ideas that don’t feel boring, and will be exciting to give and receive! First I made a spreadsheet of the gift I’d purchase.  Once I checked that the prices fit within my budget, I made sure they were assets, not liabilities.  All of my gifts fit this criteria, yet they are still fun and I’m sure the recipients will enjoy them.  I’ll let you know how my gifts go over this season!

Categories: Enjoying Life Tags: ,
  1. Canadian Performer's Money
    December 21, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    I had a conversation with my family where I suggested we just get together for a nice dinner and skip the gifts, but they wouldn’t go for it. I don’t see the point in my step sister telling me one item she wants and knowing I am going to buy it for her. She can afford to buy anything she wants, and it’s not a surprise when she unwraps it.

    I think a subscription to Money Sense magazine would actually be an asset. Even if they did renew it the next year, it would be a small price to pay for financial literacy.

    How is it possible to buy someone a stock share? I know there are a few “one share” online stores that charge you a lot for a framed share of some popular companies, but is it possible for an individual to buy a share or two in someone else’s name as a gift?

  2. December 21, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    I absolutely agree with you regarding Money Sense, or any reasonable money magazine. The benefits would surely outweigh the negatives.

    Here is some info from Vanguard’s website on gifting funds. It may not be as simple as handing your relative 1 share of the Packers, but it’s certainly doable.

    Thanks for the comment!


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