It’s the holiday season and that time of year when we reflect on the past wins and what we can do better in the coming year with energy and enthusiasm. You may already have plans to see loved ones and take a much-deserved vacation in the coming weeks.
Filled with gratitude for family and friends, I put together a list of my favorite things that do well as time and money-savings gifts that are practical and affordable that our family enjoys.
We looked for items with these characteristics:
- Favorite items we use regularly.
- Practical, easy to use, can save time and money.
- A healthier option.
- Recommendations come from the Wirecutter, CNET, Digital Trends, or other reputable reviewers.
- Were at lower prices at the time of writing (some for a limited time).
Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something at no extra cost to you.
21 Best Time And Money Saving Gifts
1. Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Grain Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Sous Vide, Yogurt Maker, Sterilizer, and Warmer, 6 Quart
I have written extensively about my love affair with the Instant Pot for a while now. When the kids were younger, I panicked almost every day trying to find easy ways to cook a meal quickly. It is not a natural skill for me, despite my mother’s efforts to teach me (she once called me a lost cause!) several easy recipes.
Watching YouTube videos about making risotto in the Instant Pot aroused my interest. Craig and the kids liked several things better in the Instant Pot, and so it became a kitchen favorite, replacing our slow cooker for several things. I am not embarrassed to tell you that we bought a couple of these, mainly because Alex set one of the tops on fire by accident. The Instant Pot is versatile for many dishes.
Without the Instant Pot, we were going out to dinner or ordering out more, so we are saving time and money with this lifesaver.
2. Instant Vortex™ Plus Air Fryer with ClearCook and OdorErase, 6QT, Stainless Steel
If you are around teens a lot (like we are), you may come across their fickle nature in tiring of what parents say, do, and make for dinner. Like my mother who was not shy about being direct in her conversation, they may be straightforward but may add a few more words that would be cringeworthy.
My kids love fried foods, but I almost burned our entire kitchen a few years back when I started a fire trying to make fried chicken bites for the kids. I have mastered making fried chicken wings for them but it can be time-consuming to get it to be crunchy without the air fryer.
The air fryer has been a great addition to making some dishes faster, healthier, and less greasy. We stuck with the Instant brand, and have made wings, chicken bites, Brussel sprouts, and chickpeas as snacks. By the way, that clear window is an excellent feature that I didn’t find on any other air fryers in this price range.
3. Oil Sprayer for Cooking, Olive Oil Sprayer Mister, Olive Oil Spray Bottle, Olive Oil Spray for Salad, BBQ, Kitchen Baking, Roasting
We have been using an olive oil bottle with a spout for a long time. However, we are always pouring too much oil, which can be messy, unhealthy, and costly. Finally, I had enough of pouring too much liquid and invested in an oil sprayer. It dispenses oil in a steady, fine stream and provides more even coverage.
It releases a lot less olive oil and can spray more evenly and directly. It is also healthier from a calorie-counting point of view.
4. SodaStream Jet Sparkling Water Maker, Kit, Black
For our recent anniversary, our kids Tyler and Alex gave us a SodaStream Terra machine. We all drink a lot of carbonated water, and always have a mix of store and generic carbonated bottles in the house. We hadn’t signaled a desire for this present, so it was a terrific surprise and we appreciated it from our loving givers.
Does SodaStream save you money? It is hard to make that case based on the two ongoing costs, the price of the CO cylinder and the syrup is about $0.65 per liter. We pay up to $1.00 per liter for a store brand in the small town where we live, but we can get it cheaper, about $0.80 per bottle when buying in bulk.
You won’t get rich on the savings from SodaStream but it can be convenient and save us time. Most of all, it makes a great present for all of us to share.
As much as we loved this present, we found out that our son bought this present at Target and paid $100, well above the $60 price on Amazon. I caused a stir by asking him to return it to Target, and buy the SodaStream from Amazon, and I would give Tyler the $40 savings. Alas, Alex used the product immediately after I opened it, and so they both learned a valuable lesson.
5. Google Nest Thermostat – Smart Thermostat for Home – Programmable Wifi Thermostat – Snow
Craig loves this smart thermostat, and I once thought I saw him talk to it. We are not tech-inclined or handy people, so when my husband told me that this device is easy to use, I believe him. The Google Nest is an excellent tool for making real-time adjustments to the temperature in your home, even remotely.
It has an eco feature that can sense when you are not home, and adjust the settings more remotely. Studies show that people can save up to 12% in energy costs and nearly 15% in cooling costs. By tracking your energy costs you can figure out savings or make some changes. When on vacation, we adjusted the temperatures to be cooler before we got home. We raise the heat when we need to as well. You can continuously monitor your home, and if you connect your thermostat to CO alarms, you will get notifications.
6. Mac Knife Professional 8 Inch Hollow Edge Chef Knife
Chef’s knives are one of the most essential tools in any kitchen, and it is likely the one knife I will splurge for when I am cooking for the holidays, company, or special events. This particular knife is lightweight and easy to use to cut vegetables and meat, especially flank steak which I use often for several recipes like Mongolian Beef. I have arthritic hands so anything that makes things easier to cut or dice makes it easier for me.
The dimples on the knife are desirable for cutting sticky foods, an added benefit.
7. HOMWE Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitt, Oven Mitts with Quilted Liner, Heat Resistant Pot Holders, Flexible Oven Gloves, Red, 1 Pair, 14.7 Inch
Safety is essential in the kitchen, especially for one who once started a fire accidentally when making fried chicken bites. The higher but affordable quality of these longer oven mitts is notable when you are gripping things with more flexibility. I use dutch ovens often and it is easier to grip the glass lids. Our dog, Teddy loves pot holders so we hope he leaves these mitts alone.
8. Anker 521 Magnetic Battery (PowerCore Magnetic 5K), 5000 mAh Magnetic Wireless Portable Charger with USB-C Cable, for iPhone 13 / 13 Pro / 13 Pro Max / 13 Mini / 12 / 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max / 12 Mini
This power bank gets rave reviews for use with phones, particularly from CNET. It is considerably lightweight with powerful magnet connections.
9. Elecjet PowerPie P20 45W Fast Portable Charger, 20,000 mAH Power Bank for Samsung and Laptop Devices
This power bank for Samsung gets super rave reviews from Digital Trends and users, praising its super-fast charging and long battery life. One user tested it for its charging speed and pointed to 30 minutes to charge from 11% to 69%. It can be used to power up the MacBook Pro as well.
10. iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum-Wi-Fi Connectivity, Good for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors, Self-Charging
I had wanted a Roomba for a long time, and at this reduced price, it felt like a bargain. It cleans our floor better than previously, removing dust, hair (usually mine), and other debris from the floors. You can control it through the Alexa app.
11. iFox iF012 Bluetooth Shower Speaker – Certified Waterproof – Wireless It Pairs Easily to All Your Bluetooth Devices – Phones, Tablets, Computer, Radio
Both Alex and Tyler are “rock star wannabes” singing along with their iPhones in their bathroom. Occasionally, they jump out of the shower or bathtub to raise the volume (they never lower it even if we beg) or change the music.
This speaker has a suction cup to attach to the wall, 100% waterproof, and you can bring it with you for bike riding, boating, sitting on a float, or an outdoor trip.
12. NIAGARA CONSERVATION GIDDS-151484 Tri-Max 3 Flow Rate Showerhead High Efficiency Shower Head, Each, Black and Chrome
We have these high-efficiency showerheads, doing our part to conserve energy and water costs. Did you know that the price of water rose 41% between 2010 and 2015? I don’t remember having many conversations about higher water costs during that timeframe, but we should be sensitive to ways we can improve water and energy conservation.
According to the EPA, the average US family uses about 300 gallons per day. Roughly 70% of this use is indoors. The EPA estimates that we save 2,700 gallons of water, power our homes for 11 days, and more than $70 a year in water and energy costs by using a shower-efficient showerhead. With the average family’s water bill about $70 a month, this won’t amount to a money-saving purchase, but rather about saving water. This showerhead isn’t a very expensive buy in any case.
13. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WHCH710N: Wireless Bluetooth Over the Ear Headset with Mic for Phone-Call, Blue (Amazon Exclusive)
The price of these Sony headphones has been marked down to $78.00 from $179.99 putting it within range for those that looking for quality noise-canceling headphones under $100. I enjoy my Sony headphones while I am writing, reading, or grading papers. True, you can much higher quality sound but the prices are out of my range.
Immersion blenders are excellent tools in the kitchen for making soups, dressings, sauces, creamy potatoes, and purees. This recommendation comes with a confession of sorts. I loved my immersion blender, especially for roasted butternut squash soup.
Last week, Craig and I had one of the best butternut squash soups at a restaurant. He asked, “How come you don’t make it anymore?” I was embarrassed to tell him that I could not find my immersion blender since we moved during the summer, and truthfully there are still a lot of boxes to go through.
However, I did tell him and he followed up by suggesting I get another one. However, I forgot which brand I was using. I started searching, and Mueller has the best reviews consistently from many reviewers and is at an excellent price.
15. GIGALUMI Solar Path Lights Outdoor, LED Solar Garden Lights Wireless, Waterproof Solar Pathway Lights Outdoor for Patio, Yard, Walkway, Lawn. (8 Pack, Warm White)
Solar lights have benefits as outdoor lighting is part of landscape design. They can increase safety and security measures near your walkways. Solar doesn’t require electricity, so it won’t increase your electric bill. It gets its charge from the sun so you need to put these fixtures in an area that isn’t covered by trees or bushes.
Amazon users gave good reviews, and here is another review outside of Amazon.
16. eufy Security, eufyCam 2C 2-Cam Kit, Security Camera Outdoor, Wireless Home Security System with 180-Day Battery Life, HomeKit Compatibility, 1080p HD, IP67, Night Vision, No Monthly Fee
Our family unanimously views the purchase of this security cam as the best device we bought this year. At first, I was skeptical as most security cameras are expensive and require monthly fees. However, we then had an incident that prompted us to proactively research products.
We came upon Eufy, and this fit the bill, giving us a broad view of the front of our home, day or night, remotely or when we are home. There aren’t any monthly fees, and relatively easy to install.
17. Takeya Originals Vacuum-Insulated Stainless-Steel Water Bottle, 32oz, Graphite (mine is the ocean color)
A few years, I ended a terrible habit of drinking water from about six bottles per day. At the time, we kept running to get 40 bottle packages at Costco at about $9.00-$10.00, or about $0.25 per pop. This was a bargain, compared to paying $1.00-$1.50 or more on the street. The idea of drinking from plastic that may have sat in the sun was the final straw.
I switched to my insulated water bottle, which I carry everywhere because it stays cold all day with the ice largely intact, is easy to refill, and results in annual savings of over $500. This was among my favorite presents to myself, and then I bought as presents for my family and friends.
18. DASH Rapid Egg Cooker: 6 Egg Capacity Electric Egg Cooker for Hard Boiled Eggs, Poached Eggs, Scrambled Eggs, or Omelets with Auto Shut Off Feature – Aqua, 5.5 Inch (DEC005AQ)
Thank heavens for this excellent tool in the kitchen. I don’t know what we would do without an egg cooker for Alex. She is a picky eater and always rushing around doing homework or running off to school, minutes after her alarm has rung for the fifth time. However, she uses this to make hard-boiled eggs the night before, and all is good when she leaves in the morning. This product is an excellent time saver.
19. Salad Cutter Bowl Upgraded Easy Salad Maker by WEBSUN, Fast Fruit Vegetable Salad Chopper Bowl Fresh Salad Slicer
This bowl is an easy way to cut vegetables and have a salad ready quickly with minimum fuss.
20. Phone Soap UV Smartphone Sanitizer & Universal Charger
Wesley Laporte and Dan Barnes developed the Phone Soap, recognizing that our phones are laden with nasty germs and bacteria. We always hold our phones, bring them in bathrooms, put them down on dirty tables, and the phones, in turn, pick up things we don’t see. The product comes with a phone charger and UV light sanitizer that works like a mini tanning bed for your phones, aptly described by the inventors.
They entered the Shark Tank in season 6, seeking $300,000 for a 7.5% interest, and they accepted Lori’s offer of $300,000 for a 10% interest. They realize strong sales of $13.5 million annually. The product was a welcome addition to our household when we bought it during the pandemic.
21. The Original COMFY Oversized Wearable Sherpa Blanket
I learned about this product from a Shark Tank episode as well. Brian and Michael Speciale are the guys behind this excellent product, The Original Comfy, a fleece-lined, oversized hooded sweatshirt in 2017, seeking $50,000 for a 20% stake in the business.
Several Sharks were interested in this product, but Barbara Corcoran stuck to her offer for $50,000 for a 30% stake. This has been among the most popular of Shark Tank’s series, and the company is going strong with annual sales of about $15 million.
It’s reversible with its soft microfiber exterior. I envied anyone wearing one as the product looks so comfortable. My kids walk around all day long in this wearable blanket.
We picked 21 items we own ourselves that are time and money saving gifts for family and friends. We hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Thank you for reading this article! Please visit us at The Cents of Money for more articles of interest.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.