I’m in the middle of a big season – gift season. Family birthdays, friend birthdays, weddings, Father’s Day, and more have been on my schedule for a while. I knew “they” were coming. I did my best to scrimp, save, and navigate cost effective ways to give good gifts without putting myself into a deeper hole than what is already provided by mortgage, utilities, car payment, and also hoping to eat a decent meal on a semi-regular basis. I am a gift giver, so I know that the easy response to more responsible gift giving is to give smaller gifts, or not give gifts at all. It’s just not my style. Over time, I’ve developed a strategy to giving gifts of any sort. Several steps can help anyone develop good practices in cost-efficient gift giving.
Set A Budget. This is always tough to do, but should be done for a variety of purchasing strategies, including gift giving. I always try to have it in my head how much I’m going to spend, so I don’t end up overspending. The tendencies for those that give gifts is to rationalize the extra money spent on what you originally budgeted as either worth it for the person receiving the gifts, or because of fatigue in buying the right gift. Set a budget and stick close to it. I give myself a $5 window from my planned amount.
Plan Ahead. The tendency is to rush the gift buying process, another factor that increases the spend amount for each gift. By planning ahead, you can research ads for the best price, as well as making use of different resources. For example, my friends and I don’t mind giving or receiving used music discs. Used discs cut down on the cost, but don’t mean any less as a gift. Also, by planning ahead, you can make use of the Internet, which can also save you money.
Gift Wrap. Gift wrap can be just as expensive as the gift itself! I’ve solved this problem over the years by using the comics section of the newspaper. I know some may cringe, but really, what are you going to do with the paper a gift is in after it has served it’s purpose?! At first, some people questioned why I was using newspaper as gift wrap, but everyone got used to it. Now, when I give a gift wrapped in the comics section, people read the gift before they open it if they see something they like. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wrap a wedding gift in newspaper, or send a child to a kid’s party with a gift wrapped in newspaper. I’m not about developing a complex in a kid’s mind! It’s all about using appropriate gift wrap for the occasion. But the comics section saves money on wrapping paper that will just end up in the garbage anyway. Plus, I feel it allows me to add a couple of extra dollars to the gift. Now, if you plan ahead, and you’re not fully sold on using the comics section, you might be able to reduce your wrapping paper costs by picking it up at the local dollar store instead of the box discount chains.
These are just a few ideas on how to save money, or economize the gift giving process. By sticking to a budget, planning ahead, and using a creative gift wrapping initiative, it is easy to give quality gifts without emptying your wallet or purse. And, no one is going to care what the gift was wrapped in five minutes after they open it. Remember it’s the thought that counts.