Want to buy people nice presents this year without overspending? Christmas can be a time of joy, but it can also be a time we feel guilty. Guilty we can’t spend enough to make others happy. Guilty we can’t get our kids more. I think, instead of feeling guilty and overspending, we can still make sure we are able to bless those we love without going into debt.
I’ll share tips on how to manage your money and how to get people gifts they will love, even if they are very inexpensive. This post was sponsored by Regions Bank. All opinions are my own.
Let me start off by saying that giving gifts is not one of my love languages. Not is receiving gifts. While my mother is amazing at thinking of gifts, being creative, and even packaging them so cleverly… it requires more from me. More thought, more effort, and more planning.
I don’t mind this because the point of giving gifts is sentiment and thought, right? I’ve gotten better with age and priorities, and here are some ways you can get gifts that are appropriate and appreciated without breaking the bank or going into debt. Two things I believe are very important.
Think about the person
This sounds overly simplistic, I know. But instead of going to the store and thinking about a gift first, just think about the person. What does she like? What type of gifts or talents does she have? Is she active or a homebody or a cooker? You could spend $10 on a kitchen gadget for a foodie that’d be far more appreciated than a more expensive gift not related to their interests. A scarf is beautiful, but if they already have 25 scarves and it doesn’t even snow where they live… do more thinking.
One year while doing my masters (meaning I was broke), I decided I’d give everyone a book for Christmas. Months in advance, I thought of each individual person and bought a book that reflected their personality or interests. I loved giving those gifts – and they were well received – because it showed I actually thought of that person and who they are.
Shop before you get desperate
Just as you aren’t to grocery shop while starving, don’t wait to Christmas shop until the family dinner is in 3 hours and you have 17 gifts to buy and get wrapped. This will result in vague and expensive gifts. You won’t have time to price shop or wander around stores choosing the best gift. Set aside money throughout the year, or in the month leading up to your shopping date, and then be calm. To be honest, any time we make decisions in desperation we usually regret it. Particularly when the credit card bill comes in.
Family Christmas list
We do a family Christmas list in our family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and kids. Nothing huge and we put things that range from more expensive to even as low as $5. This is amazingly helpful because, even if your present budget per person is very low, you can still give a great gift if you know they want it. A runner’s favorite socks, a gift card to a coffee shop where a mom goes weekly, K-cups, etc. When you know what others want, you can really spend less and make them happier at the same time.
Be realistic with your budget
According to Regions, gifts shouldn’t be more than 1.5% of your annual income. So for example, if your household income is $50,000 that is around $750. This means you shouldn’t buy one gift for $500! Of course, you can spend your money how you wish, but don’t feel burdened or pressured (by yourself or others) into buying gifts you simply cannot afford. If you have a $50,000 household income and spend $3000 on Christmas gifts, you are spending 6% of your annual income for one day. When you put it like that, it doesn’t seem wise.
Be honest with family
I’ve had readers email me or leave comments talking about this very thing. At times, a family cannot afford to give a lot of gifts, and the best thing you can do is to let your family know. For example, if you are doing homemade gifts instead of gift cards, let them know in advance so you don’t feel awkward on Christmas Day. Your finances are your family’s business and any choice you make is okay. In fact, it’s better than okay, and may set a good example for others in your family who feel pressured to spend money they don’t have.
Take a longer approach
Regions Bank has over 1600 branches over 16 states and gives personalized advice for consumers on how to prepare for the holidays. If you already feel the pull on your purse strings this year, it’s not too late to begin planning for how you’ll put money aside for the holidays next year. For more information on financial planning, you can visit Region’s Facebook page as well.
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