By:  Karen Sullen

In today's economy, we are all looking for ways that we can save money.  We clip coupons, watch for sales, shop at discount warehouses, all in attempt to get the best product for the lowest price.  But have you ever thought how great it would be to give a gift that saves the recipient some money?  Yep!  It's the gift that saves.  All you have to do is identify the things that the person would normally spend money on and figure out a way to get it done for them.  Let's face it.  Who wouldn't appreciate you paying for golf lessons (if you know they've always wanted to learn to play the game) as opposed to yet another "what in the world do I do with this" gift?  Try giving a gift that saves the next time you have to purchase a baby shower gift.  Having a baby is one thing, but paying for that little bundle of joy is quite another.  I'm sure Mom and Dad would really appreciate these thoughtful gift ideas that can help them save money in return.

Choose multi-purpose items
It's great when one gift can meet a number of different needs or grow with the baby.  A personalized stool that's also flips into a chair is an excellent choice.  Or instead of using a basket to package baby essentials like blankets, towels and burp cloths, put them in a more useful container like a tote bag or wagon.  Even using brightly-colored, non-baby gift bags that they can reuse will help them save money on gift wrapping.

Never underestimate the power of a subscription
Whether you give them a subscription to the local newspaper so they can clip coupons or to a great baby or parenting magazine full of all sorts or resources, the gift of a subscription is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  Great for first-time parents!

Gift them a shopping spree
What's more fun than spending other people's money?  Gift cards are a great way to help them get what they need without spending a dime.  And the fun Mom will have shopping is just an added bonus.  But stay away from pricey boutiques that only sell a few items.  That won't save them money because they'll still have to spend their money on the things they really need.  Focus on stores that offer a wide variety of things they would purchase for themselves or for baby.

Way to save!
Why not wrap up a silver piggy bank for the baby with a note that tells them you've opened a savings account for baby.  Starting it off with a few bucks will get the ball rolling.  You can even add to it on subsequent birthdays and at Christmas.  It's an excellent way for grandparents, aunts and uncles to give a unique baby gift.  If you don't want to actually open an account, give a savings bond instead.

Focus on life events
Your thoughtfulness will be doubly appreciated if you consider the upcoming events and give your gift accordingly.  If you know they're planning to have a christening or baptism for the baby, why not offer to purchase some meaningful favors for the event?  You can also bless them with baby's first bible, personalized blanket or prayer cross as a thoughtful keepsake.  They'll be impressed that you know them and their needs so well and gave them a gift they could really use.

Parents love hand-me-downs
Now I'm not talking about used clothing or baby items here (although there are always some good finds out there,) but good, quality products that you know can be passed down to the little ones to follow.  Especially if it's their first child or you know they're planning on having another soon, it's important that items are built to last so they don't have to be replaced.  Sturdy wooden toys and classic toys like a jack-in-the-box have timeless appeal.    

Picture perfect
You know they'll be taking lots of pictures after the baby arrives.  If they don't already own one, giving the parents-to-be a digital camera or a photo printer will help them save big bucks over a traditional camera.  They save on photo processing by emailing pictures or by printing their own.  Pair it with a fabulous photo album with a note that tells them to "fill it up!"

Baby stuff needs batteries
Nowadays, it seems that everything requires batteries.  In addition to including some with the gift, giving Mom and Dad a set of rechargeable batteries is a fantastic idea!  They seem to last forever and can keep precious nightlights and toys up to speed.

If you're reading this article, you're probably a cost-conscious shopper.  Hopefully these eight tips will help you get a deal when you buy it and give a deal when you give it.