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(TNS)—Stuffing cash in an envelope — or tucking it in a box of chocolates like my Dad used to do — can be a pretty great gift in many households. Unfortunately, some people do view cash as a tad impersonal.
Yet, there are plenty of other creative options for show-me-the-money gifts that can go beyond the usual U.S. savings bonds.
If you want savings bonds, Series EE savings bonds issued from November 2015 through April 2016 will earn a fixed rate of 0.10 percent — so they’re not all that exciting. Series I savings bonds issued during that time earn a composite rate of 1.64 percent for the first six months after the issue date — and a portion of that is indexed to inflation every six months. See www.treasurydirect.gov for how to buy savings bonds as gifts online.
But if you’re looking for other ideas, here are five on-the-money gifts:
––Ever think about five gold rings? You could dish out roughly $750 for five gold rings, according to the 2015 PNC Christmas Gift Index. The price for a simple, no-fuss gold wedding band is about flat from last year, according to PNC. (Granted, you could pay $700 or more for just one attractively designed man’s gold wedding band.)
But the price of gold has been trending down lately and was down roughly about 10 percent in late November from a year ago. Some think the downward trend will continue. Gold would start at around $128 for one-tenth troy ounce American Eagle gold coin as of Nov. 30, says John Abbott of Abbott’s Coins in Birmingham,...
A hot shot in the world of weather is letting go of his LA home. Dallas Raines (convenient name for a weatherman, no?) recently listed his house in Pasadena for $3.498 million. Perched high on a hill with sweeping views of the skyline, the two-story gated home sits on over an acre of sought-after Los Angeles land.
Built in 2007, the 4,700-square-foot space offers stainless steel appliances, black granite counters, a bar for boozing and a den with a fireplace for those chilly Los Angeles nights when the temperature dips below 70. The home includes three bedrooms and five bathrooms, a putting green, a sports court, a fire pit, a swimming pool, and—if you need a place to house your in-laws or recently divorced old college roomie—a pool house with a kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom.
Raines bought the property in 2008 for $2.9 million.
Listed for: $3.498 million
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Read more: Great Spaces: Former Home of a Weather Forecaster
We’re just days away from the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first of the franchise’s sequel series picking up three decades after the fall of the Galactic Empire. While we anxiously await lightsaber duels and starfighter battles (and new planets!), we’re tapping into our own Jedi powers to rank some of the most iconic homes in the galaxy.
5. Theed Royal Palace
Atop a cliff in Naboo’s capital city, the Royal Palace was modeled after the real-life Marin County Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—regrettably not a long time ago, nor in a galaxy far, far away. The interior is actually the Palace of Caserta (Italy’s answer to Versailles), with 1,200 rooms, a library and a theater, all overlooking a garden blooming on nearly 300 acres.
What’s it worth? Based on approximations for the French landmark and the Civic Center, the palace and its many watch towers could fetch up to $2 billion if it ever went to market.
4. Hutt Castle
Otherwise known as Jabba’s Palace, this durasteel monastery-turned-crime lord retreat offers unobstructed views of Tatooine’s Dune Sea. Powered by energy produced at an in-house facility, the castle features a tower with spiral staircase and holoprojector, an elevator with a capacity for Hutts and polished stone floors throughout.
The real selling point? A pit below the throne room perfect for a pet rancor.
3. Ewok Tree Hut
Nestled more than 150 feet above ground on the Forest Moon of Endor, these treetop huts form Bright Tree...
Read more: ‘Star Wars’: Ranking the Galaxy’s Most Iconic Homes
Set amid towering pines, this contemporary-style wood-and-stone mountain lodge sits on 1 1/2 acres along Lake Arrowhead. A walkway leads across the lawn to a sandy beach and two docks. Inside, a dramatic two-story-plus living room has vaulted beamed ceilings, a wall of windows and a massive stone fireplace.
Location: 463 Sky View Ridge Drive, Lake Arrowhead 92352
Asking price: $9.997 million
Year built: 2009
House size: Eight bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, two powder rooms, about 12,000 square feet
Lot size: 1.54 acres
Features: Open-plan kitchen with center island and breakfast area, media room, gym, game room, inside play area with built-in trampoline, nine fireplaces, wood floors throughout, sports court
About the area: Last year, 469 single-family homes sold in the 92352 ZIP Code at a median price of $311,000, according to CoreLogic. That was an 11% price increase from 2013.
Agent: Vicki Smith, (909) 499-9639, Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge