Gifts are on my mind today. My husband and I both come from large families: I am the oldest of eight, and my husband is the oldest of four. So far there are three spouses and only two nephews in the family, but we trust that those numbers will greatly increase in the years to come! In addition to our immediate families, we both have very large extended families. This month alone there are six birthdays in our immediate families! Birthdays are wonderful, but can also quickly turn into a large expense category. I will confess that this one is a bit difficult for me, because I love to give gifts. In fact, I would just love it if I had a large, separate stash of cash designated only for gift-giving! Ahhh… Well, reality requires that I get creative in this category so that I can still have the joy of giving.
Here are a few ways that I have learned to cut the cost of this fun, but potentially costly expense category:
8) Determine who, in addition to your immediate family, will receive birthday and Christmas gifts and set a limit on the amount you will spend. Also, set aside money for Christmas gifts throughout the year.
Most banks offer Christmas savings accounts to help you prepare for the extra expense that Christmas can bring. If you decide not to go this route, I would still recommend setting a small amount of money aside each month if you are a Christmas gift-giver! No need for those expenses to be spread out over two or three months when they could be spread over twelve months.
I do have a set limit for the birthday presents I give, and if I hit a sale that enables me to purchase something less expensively for the value limit I have set, I let my budget enjoy the savings.
Give gifts of service. When my husband was in grad school and finances were especially tight, I gave him the birthday gift of a fun little hand-made coupon book with all kinds of coupons for things I knew he would enjoy: his choice of a favorite homemade meal, a back massage, etc. This is just one idea, but the homemade gift possibilities are endless.
Now that we have children, we often give the gift of pictures. Target and Walmart have awesome deals for professional photos. You could spend $7.99 on an entire package (don’t buy any extras) and have picture gifts for the entire family!
Give joint gifts. This works well at Christmas.
9) Consider shopping at a dollar store for cards.
As much as I love cards, I am absolutely mortified at their cost! When my husband and I married, I quickly learned that cards were a big deal in his family. I was amazed when even very small holidays would bring several cards in the mail. Yikes! I wondered how I would be able to keep up with the expense of cards. One day when I was in Dollar Tree, I took a look at their cards and was amazed: they weren’t Hallmark, but there were some very nice cards to be had for only $0.50 each! I couldn’t believe it as I walked out with all the cards I needed for the entire quarter (15) and I had spent only $7.50! I could have easily spent that on 2 cards elsewhere!
Now, I will admit that Dollar Tree has fallen short on a number of occasions. For instance, their “aunt” or “uncle” or “great-grandparent” selection sometimes leaves much to be desired. Look for dollar cards at Walmart or Target: they can often be found in most card sections. Also, look for sales on cards. Rite Aid just had a wonderful coupon in their paper last week: $3 off 3 American Greeting cards. I had two of those coupons and a $3 off $15 that enabled me to get six very nice cards for $14. That’s just over $2/ card, and for the cards I bought, this was quite a nice deal!
Of course you can make your own cards, as well. I have done this on occasion (especially with a toddler…their homemade cards are priceless!). I have an aunt who makes the most exquisite cards. I’m sure there is some expense involved in cards like that, but it must be considerably less than the $4.99 you can easily spend on a card in the store.
What creative ways have you found to cut the cost of gifts or cards? Leave a comment below!
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