How to give gifts and be a wise spender
Holiday gift giving can get expensive, fast! If you love giving gifts but struggle with keeping your budget in line, go into the holidays with a plan for avoiding excessive debt.
We took an informal poll around the office to see what our employees do to save money or set aside funds for this special time of year. Together, we created a list of ideas that can help even the most ambitious gift giver stay on track.
1. Set a budget.
You’ve heard this one before, but it works. Set a spending budget for your holiday gifts. Or, if you receive a guaranteed holiday bonus, set aside enough to purchase gifts. Then continue to save (or buy a few gifts at a time) when finances allow. Be sure to consider holiday expenses outside of gifts, too, such as gas, airfare, food, and lodging.
“I have a ‘gift’ line item in my budget. We set aside a certain amount each month for birthday and Christmas gifts. We determine an overall amount averaged from analyzing purchases from years prior, and then divide by 12 and voila!”
2. Draw names.
Have a large group to shop for? If you usually purchase a gift for every sibling, niece, nephew, and child in your family, consider drawing names for your gift exchange. Also, be sure to set a spending minimum and maximum. While you’ll give and receive less, you may also be able to exchange higher-priced gifts.
“My boyfriend’s family introduced me to this concept. Instead of shopping for his mother, father, two sisters, two brother-in-laws, two kids, and his grandma, I only need to pick up a gift for one person. It makes the whole gift-giving experience more enjoyable.”
3. Pool funds (or gifts) for a family experience.
Do you have a tight-knit family? Instead of buying presents for everyone, find ways to put small amounts of money toward spending time together. For example, you can play Bingo or the dice game to win gifts. Have everyone purchase a few $5 gifts. Then wrap and pile the gifts together for an evening of family entertainment.
4. Gift everyday essentials.
Sometimes gifting a nice pair of socks or pajamas is enough to make you smile. You know it’s more likely to get used and won’t end up in one of those big return piles. A person’s favorite foods or personal care products can make great gifts! All you have to do is find out what those things are.
5. Shop during sales.
Be a smart shopper. Start browsing Sunday circulars and online sales now for items you will need. You’re not going to find amazing deals if you wait until the last minute. Many companies offer great promotions or daily deals in the last few weeks of the year. However, you can find sales throughout the year to help you save money.
Money isn’t everything.
No matter your financial situation, consider giving the simple gift of time this holiday season. Get out in the community and volunteer, and make time for family and friends. Your presence is more than enough to let others know you love them. And giving time doesn’t need a beautiful bow on top to prove you care.
This information is presented for educational purposes only. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.