Gift giving can be a financial challenge with birthdays, holidays, graduations and many major milestones to celebrate. With money tight, getting organized before each school year, planning ahead and sticking to a budget can help you cut costs when it’s time to give that perfect gift. Below are a few helpful tips that can save time, sanity and money when gift giving.
Make a List -Stick to it!
At the start of every school year, create a list of family and friends’ birthdays, holidays with each gift recipient’s name, special occasions that warrant gifts (graduations, teacher gifts, weddings, birthdays, etc.). In a separate column, list each gift recipients’ likes (if you know them well). In another column, try to monetize each gift. Making a gift list and sticking to it reminds you not to overspend and choose gifts wisely with purpose.
Shop Year Round
It’s very easy to get into the holiday spirit and spend more than you planned. Remove the uncertainty of year-round giving and start with just one shelf. Choose a shelf in your closet and devote that shelf to gifts for holidays and birthdays. Keep your gift list handy when you shop, and you’ll find amazing bargains throughout the year. Store gifts on your special shelf devoted to holiday and birthday gifts. Stores have big sales throughout the year or clearance sales on specific gifts you need. By shopping well before or immediately after holidays, you can save a lot of money and skip the craziness of holiday shopping.
Buy in Bulk
This school year, Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6 through May 10, 2013. While it may seem daunting to get gifts for all of your child’s teachers, buying in bulk can create huge savings and great gifts. Purchase teacher gifts before a new school year begins at a huge bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club and store them on your gift shelf until it is gift time.
Be Bold and Ask for a Discount
Another cost cutting way to save when gift giving is to simply ask. Ask for a discount. This may not work when shopping at a large retail chain-store, but many local, specialty shops offer coupons or special discounts that you can keep an eye out for. Rarely will you get a, “No” from a shop owner, but you may hear, “If you purchase two or more/spend this amount, we can give you a discount.” You never know until you ask.
Be Creative and Make your Own Gifts
Scrambling for the right gift can be a huge cause for panic and stress. Creating a handmade gift gives a personal touch and shows you care. It is easy to get the whole family involved in making handmade gifts like cookie jar gifts (dry ingredients sealed in a jar with a recipe attached) or holiday ornament making. You don’t have to be super crafty in order to make handmade gifts for family and friends. After all, it is the thought that counts when gift giving.
The Dreaded Regift
Before you roll your eyes, regifting isn’t just for Seinfeld characters and there are strict rules to prevent hurt feelings. Whenever you receive a gift you know you would never use or would not appreciate as the gift giver intended, grab a post it note, write the gift giver’s name on it, and add it to your gift shelf. The note serves to remind you who originally gave the gift. Several rules to stick to when regifting:
- Never use the gift and then attempt to regift.
- Always have someone else in mind for the gift.
- Never regift the gift to anyone remotely connected to the original gift giver.
- Rewrap the gift and be certain the gift is in perfect condition and free of identifying marks from the original gift giver to you.
These are just a few easy steps to take to cut costs and headaches from gift list. Sticking to a list and budget, shopping frugally and buying in bulk, not being afraid to ask for discounts, going the homemade route with gift giving and even an occasional regift or two can save you from the stress of holiday shopping and gift giving throughout the years.