Gift giving occasions can set off panic attacks in the toughest people.
Concerns range from how to find the perfect pressie to how to pay for it.
This can happen any time of year but reaches a peak at Christmas. It is estimated one in four Australians experience fear instead of cheer.
Here are some tips for awesome gift giving, any time of year, that won’t blow your budget.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – PLANNING IS KEY
The crazy thing about becoming a grandparent is that your family is expanding while your future earnings could well be diminishing. That means buying for more people with less money.
We all have to retire at some point and whether using self-funded superannuation savings or a government pension to live off, the fact is we’ll be living on less.
With that in mind, it is vital to start thinking ahead.
This advice works perfectly for young people too, many of whom have a mountain of debt and a minimum wage.
Plan who you need to buy for and when.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – START WITH A LIST
Lists are wonderful tools for saving. They keep you focused on what you need and help you keep track of your budget.
I have two gift-giving lists each year – one for birthdays and one for Christmas.
We seem to have a cluster of family birthdays in the middle of the year – almost like a mini Christmas. It takes its toll on time and finances.
The lists ensure I keep track of what I’ve bought for whom, making it easier to take advantage of sales and avoid last-minute spending sprees.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – WORK OUT A BUDGET
I know too many people who don’t have a budget in relation to gift giving. This gets them into all kinds of trouble.
When planning your budget, be sure to consider the spending abilities of the people you are giving to. I remember a sister-in-law once asking me to stop buying for her kids because she couldn’t reciprocate and it made her feel bad. Not the kind of gift I was intending.
While you may end up spending different amounts on friends, respecting what their budget might be, when it comes to children – keep it equal. Children notice when one is favoured over the other and it can lead to hurt feelings and reduced confidence.
An excellent idea at Christmas, in particular, is to agree on a budget with other family members. That eliminates the fear that you are not spending enough, or that you’re spending too much. Everyone spends the same amount.
During this discussion, you can negotiate to buy just for the kids or opt for a Secret Santa plan in order to save money.
Consider having a small amount of your weekly or fortnightly pay go directly into a gift account that you can build up.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SALES
Having a good plan (with a list and a budget) means you can make the most of sales – especially the January sales, which are the biggest in Australia.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – OFFER A SERVICE
Why not offer your time and skills in lieu of a bought present?
I asked my very tech-minded son to give me a few hours of his time as a birthday present this year. There were some technical issues to deal with on my website. I acknowledged that, with his skill set, his time was worth more than any bought gift he could afford to buy me. If I were to pay for his help, it would cost me hundreds. We both saved money. Win-win.
You could offer your services for babysitting, to help out young family members, or for cleaning or gardening, to help older family members. Think creatively about the resources and skills you have.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – SECOND-HAND DOES NOT MAKE IT A SECOND THOUGHT
There is no shame in buying second hand if the gift suits the recipient. In fact, a friend and I have agreed to give pre-loved gifts to each other this Christmas. We share a disdain for the materialistic nature of the season and a recognition that it’s still fun to give and receive.
This may prove to be quite a challenge. It is often easier to buy something shiny and new than to spend the time searching for that perfect pre-loved pressie.
AWESOME GIFT GIVING – HOMEMADE IS HEARTFELT
I love receiving homemade gifts. The thought that someone has spent their precious time to make something just for me warms my heart and makes me feel cherished.
The gift can be as simple as some homemade biscuits presented in a recycled glass jar with a ribbon around it. Check out my recipe for white chocolate and macadamia cookies.
How about these ‘funtastic’ ideas for gifts that save money?
A well thought out gift can end up meaning more to the receiver than the shiny and new expensive thing that merchandisers are pushing for you to buy.
Take the time to plan.
Set a budget and stick to it.
Think creatively about your gift giving.
Mostly, don’t let the material push spoil the fun and love represented in giving.
Happy saving and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.