Cash is not crass.

During a watercooler discussion at work, the topic of giving cash (in this case, to the wonderful woman who cleans the office) came up. I have discussed the idea with a few folks, and it seems that most people the same way: we love to receive cash! So what's with the hang-up over giving it? Is it perceived as crass in some way?

My opinion is that cash is truly the one size fits all gift. After standing in line at the bank to obtain some crisp 20s to give as gifts, I overheard a woman next to me buying some Wachovia Visa gift cards. The teller asked her, "And how would you like to pay for the $1.95 service charges?" Service charges?! On gift cards?! At that point, I would have halted that little transaction altogether.

While money is no substitute for a well thought out gift from the heart, nowadays it is a much preferable option to gift cards whose fine prints are longer than Santa's naughty list. Give the green if you want a gift that truly can be used anywhere and has no crazy hidden fees. And, if properly invested or saved, it really is a gift that keeps on giving.