If you're like me, you're still hunting for last-minute Christmas gifts.
So today, we're continuing a tradition...
My team and I wanted to share our best gift ideas with you. These are all things we've liked, used, and purchased ourselves. As with everything we do here, we want to give you all the information we can to empower you to take control of your life.
And if you've already finished your shopping, why not get a little something for yourself?
We've also read lots of great suggestions from our readers, so feel free to share the things that have helped you live a better 2023... [email protected].
I was sitting in the Michelin-starred restaurant Spiaggia in Chicago years ago when I asked the head sommelier if she had any fun wine to try. I'd been there before, and the neat thing about the restaurant was that it offered many high-end wines using a wine tool called a Coravin.
It allowed her to give me a small taste of several different wines without having to buy a whole bottle. That night, I ended up finding a great Sicilian grape that I'd never had before, and I didn't have to shell out $150 for the bottle. Instead, I was able to enjoy a small pour (3 ounces) of several of these beautiful high-end wines – without the high-end price of a full bottle. It's a true "retirement millionaire" secret.
I used this little-known weapon just last week near my office in Baltimore. And again, I was able to drink an incredible wine without paying for or opening a whole bottle. That's because pouring wine from a Coravin means the restaurant doesn't have to uncork a bottle just to pour you a glass.
Coravin is a wine-preservation system that lets you pour wine without disrupting the oxidation in the bottle. It uses a thin needle to pierce the cork, and once you've poured yourself a glass, the Coravin system fills the space left behind with argon gas. This keeps oxygen out of the bottle and thus delays spoiling your wine. This lets you have a glass and still keep the rest of the wine in the bottle for weeks, months, or even years.
Its benefit isn't just limited to expensive wines at restaurants. You can use it at home... I like to use it to taste old bottles in my 2,000-bottle cellar to see if the wine is still good. If you're someone who only wants the occasional glass and you don't want to throw away most of the bottle, this is a great way to save money. Or if you're like me and you have a wine collection, it's easy to test the quality of the wine in certain bottles without opening and spoiling the entire bottle.
A Coravin is the perfect tool for yourself or for the wine lover in your life.
Our director of research, Matt Weinschenk
I'm loathe to buy into a fitness craze, but I've joined the "rucking" trend. Rucking is simply walking with added weight on your back. It doesn't take much more effort than walking without the weight, but it raises your heart rate and can up calorie burn by 25%. Rucking turns a walk into a workout. It allows you to get in your cardio, while also adding weight training – which is important to maintaining muscle mass as we age. On top of that, long walks get you outside and are a great time for quiet reflection or listening to podcasts or audiobooks.
It can be done simply by piling some books or water into a backpack. Start slow with 10 pounds or so in a backpack and see if it's for you. If you like it, do what I did and switch to this weighted vest. It balances the load better on your body (a heavy backpack can get uncomfortable), and you can adjust the amount of weight. Getting up to 30 or 40 pounds can really make a difference.
I also have two books for you to add to your to-read list...
First, in honor of Charlie Munger's recent passing, you can't beat his book, Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Essential Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. It's full of Munger's talks and essays. There's plenty on investing in there, but it's really about thinking carefully and making good decisions in all walks of life. The linked version is a beautiful new print edition from Stripe Press – which just came out this month. But if you'd like to save some money (as Charlie would), they've made the entire book available for free, online here.
And second, our friend Eric Wade doesn't think like everybody else. You may know him as our in-house cryptocurrency expert. But he's in the final stages of publishing a book with no parallel. Eric calls it America vs Americans: How Capitalism Has Failed a Capitalist Nation and What We Can Do About It. It comes out in February, but you can preorder it now. It's not about investing and only has a little bit on cryptocurrencies. Instead, it's full of Eric's big ideas on what's wrong with America – and how we can fix it. It doesn't fit into the politics of the left or the right. Everyone will find something they agree with – and something they disagree with. But it's an honest and fresh attempt to find a new way forward. If you like thinking about radical ways to change our society, see which of Eric's ideas you like (and which ones you don't!).
Our franchise manager, Laura Bente
We've spent years showing people how to be prepared for emergencies. But I didn't always have everything I'd need in case of a disaster. So I decided to make 2023 the year I get my preparedness gear together. While I keep plenty of supplies we've told readers to have on hand – like water and canned food – I've also been adding some other essentials to my stockpile.
And one of my favorite buys this year has been the Jackery Portable Power Station. It's a good alternative to a traditional, gas-powered generator. You can't run a gas generator inside your house or garage because they emit lethal fumes. These machines always require good ventilation. And you need someplace cool and dry to store the gasoline. But a Jackery power station doesn't run on gas, so it's safe to use inside. To charge it, all you do is plug it into a normal outlet. I regularly check mine to make sure it's fully charged. But if you have a power outage for a few days, you can also use solar energy to charge it. It's convenient for camping, too.
There are several different models to suit different power needs, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. But I recommend keeping an eye on their prices on Amazon. The power stations go on sale throughout the year. I've even seen them selling for 40% off.
Our managing editor, Brady Holt
The other day, I was walking with a neighbor who lamented that her family always insists on buying her stuff. She has three kids and a house overflowing with stuff. The gift that she's really looking for is an experience.
If you're struggling to come up with the perfect item to buy a friend or loved one, there may be a better path – one that won't contribute to their clutter.
My neighbor said she wishes for a family membership to our excellent aquarium here in Baltimore. My parents sometimes take me out to a nice dinner in lieu of a physical gift. Think about what your gift recipient likes to do... or something you'd love to introduce them to. See if that gives you inspiration for a gift that doesn't come in a box.
Our senior analyst, Jeff Havenstein
It's the holiday season once again and for most folks, that means spending time with family and friends. In years past, my family would spend the day together, enjoy a nice meal, and then debate what to do for the night... Usually, we'd end up watching a movie.
A couple years ago, we all decided we want more quality time with each other. So every year since, my mom has bought a new game for us to play once the kids go to bed. Now we've stockpiled some fun games that we bring out at every family gathering.
Rack-O has turned into a family favorite. It's a simple game that takes a bit of basic math and strategy. But it's quick and can get your blood pumping.
Don't judge this game by its name, but Farkle is another fun one. Like Rack-O, it's simple to understand and doesn't take all night to play. All you have to do is roll some dice and decide how risky you are feeling. Anyone can enjoy Farkle.
Finally, Rummikub has been a staple in our family, as my siblings and I grew up playing this with our grandmother. If you have never played before, you'll get hooked quickly.
Our health and wellness researcher, Misha Cash
Nonstick cookware is a game changer. It keeps my food from sticking to the pan and burning while I'm cooking. And it takes a lot of the scrubbing effort out of cleaning up once I'm finished cooking.
But too often, my everyday Teflon pots would develop little knicks and scratches in the nonstick material. I used to ignore these miniscule blights... until I learned that these scratches allow harmful chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances("PFAS") to leach into your food.
Research into PFAS has shown that they can to build up in our bodies over time because they don't break down easily. And at high exposure levels, PFAS can create serious health problems like hormone disruptions and changes in your liver enzymes.
So I've ditched all my Teflon cookware and replaced them with GreenPan products. GreenPan uses ceramic to provide the same nonstick benefits, without the dangers of PFAS exposure.
They're a little pricey... and you have to heat them gradually and clean them gently. But it's definitely worth a little extra effort, in my opinion. I try my best to prioritize eating healthy, and that means not only choosing the right foods, but cooking with safer materials, as well.
Our health and wellness research assistant, Ellen Chung
This Thanksgiving, I didn't cook a single dish.
But I was more than happy to help by washing the mountain of dishes for the folks hosting the big meal.
And I came prepared... bringing my extra-long dishwashing gloves.
Thanks to the evening-glove length, I didn't have to roll up my sleeves. The slightly narrowed band at the top helps them stay up, too. And the textured surface helped me keep my grip on greasy casserole pans.
They're a velvety soft rubber and a pair lasts me a couple of years... for around $5 a pop. You can likely find them on the cheap at your local Asian or international grocer if you happen to live by one. Or you can snag a couple online. (Just remember to check the sizing.) Some even come with handy hooks built in to hang-dry your gloves.
For those of you allergic to latex, these work like a charm. They've also got the extra-long length and come with a thin, fuzzy lining that helps wick sweat away. And, of course, both options are terrific for protecting your hands from the drying effects of all that dish soap.
For me, a sturdy, comfortable pair of long gloves makes dishwashing a breeze. I also like to spray my dirty dishes with a mix of dish soap, isopropyl alcohol, and water before letting them sit for a few minutes. This step really helps save water for soaking dishes. And whipping up your own concoction helps save some money, too.
As a disclaimer, we do receive a very small commission for anything purchased through our Amazon links. It has no bearing on our recommendations.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
December 14, 2023
P.S. Our offices are closed tomorrow for our annual holiday celebrations. Expect your next Health & Wealth Bulletin issue on Monday, December 18.