It wasn’t easy, but I figured out a way to talk about Christmas and economics in the same article. A fundamental part of economics is the fact that substitutes can alter our decision to buy something. If the price of what we want is too high or if scarcity causes the item to leave empty shelves at WalMart, we’re forced to choose a substitute. If you’re in this boat, take a look at these substitutes for the most popular Christmas gifts this year.
1. iPad Substitute: Kindle Fire
Since 2010, the iPad has been on almost everyone’s Christmas list. At a price point of $450 or more depending on the model you want, it might be out of your price range.
But don’t get discouraged yet! The Kindle Fire, which was released in November, is making its way to the top of the list and under the tree. At $199 (about half the price of the iPad), we shouldn’t be surprised.
Here are some specs of the Kindle Fire
- 7″ multi-touch display
- 14.6 ounces
- 8 GB internal memory, with unlimited cloud storage.
- Dual core processor
- Between 7-8 hours battery life.
- Amazon Silk web browser
2. Yankee Candle Substitute: Soy Candles or DIY
My wife loves Yankee Candles but they can get expensive! If the person you’re shopping for doesn’t mind an alternative, you can try an eco-friendly soy candle which can be half the cost of a regular Yankee Candle. You can also check out eBay or Amazon for deals on actual Yankee Candles. Just try to stay away from the store in the mall unless they have a huge sale. You can save a lot by ordering them online or making them yourself.
3. DVDs Substitute: Netflix Subscription
I’ve never been a fan of buying DVDs because they’re so expensive and you might watch them a few times then forget about them. Instead of spending $30-50 DVDs for each person in your family, consider paying for a year’s worth of Netflix. At $8 a month, you’ll be paying $96 for a year of Netflix. If you buy a DVD at $15, you’d be limited to 6 with your $100 budget. With Netflix, you can watch thousands of movies for less than $100 a year!
4. Buckyballs Substitute: Neodymium Magnets from Amazon
I have no idea why Buckyballs are so popular, but kids (and adults) love them. The downside is that real Buckyballs will set you back about $20 – $30. Seems kind of high for magnets. If you like the idea of these stackable magnets, you can do a search on Amazon for “Neodymium Magnets.” It’s basically the same thing (Buckyball is just a brand for these ‘rare earth magnets’) and you can get a cool set of magnet cubes for $9.99.
5. Christmas Gifts Substitute: Vacation
Why not skip the gifts altogether and create memories instead? That’s exactly what Joe and his family did this summer. Rent a nice beach house and spend a week away from the cold. Check out Joe’s Christmas in June post here.
Do you have any suggestions for Christmas gift substitutes?
Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.