Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, and every other occasion where you have to bring a gift can increase the pressure that you feel. Yes, we want to celebrate with our loved ones and coworkers but what do we buy them?
The goal is always to make them feel appreciated without breaking the bank, going over budget or using our credit card for something that we couldn't afford to pay off right then and there.
My favorite holiday of all time is Christmas and I spend months thinking of what present I will buy each person in my family so that I can maximize the deals I get, stay on budget, and even ease my stress because I won't be doing last minute shopping.
According to Alliant it was expected that in 2020 Americans would spend just under 30 billion all together on holiday expenses. On average this was about $997.79 per person.
This year for Christmas I saved months in advance by using a Christmas Fund.
After the holiday season, I begin to think about all of the fun birthday dates and activities that I could do at 16, 17,18, and now 21 years old.
It is a blessing to be able to buy or do what you want without worrying if it will be all the money that you had put away for a rainy day.
Keep reading to find out 6 ways to buy someone a gift they will love even when you're short on cash.
You can't prepare for everything.
But in a world where having several bank accounts, checking accounts and using a cash system is possible, you can try your hardest to expect the unexpected when it comes to finances.
To begin you always want to think about the time frame.
When is the event? Do you get paid right before you should be giving it to someone?
Are you okay with easy heartwarming DIY gifts and if yes how much time and supplies will you need?
Knowing your audience can help narrow down when to start buying and help you figure out what you are getting.
Determine who you are buying a gift for
Of course it's simple if it's just one birthday in May.
But many times we read post about holiday, birthday, and anniversary gift ideas and saving tips because there's more than one person we will be buying tokens of appreciation for in the next 365 days.
A friend of mine has 3 birthdays right after Christmas to buy gifts for and knowing this ahead of time prepares her mentally for how she will have to budget her paychecks.
Ask what they want
Every year I ask my family what they want and every year they tell me the same answer.
You know what I like.
And as frustrating as this response can be because I was looking for inspiration, it doesn't stop me from being able to buy the best gifts —even when I was broke. Listen deeply in your conversations with them.
Are they complaining about a broken appliance? Does your sibling mention how they love to wear sweaters and need a new pair of shoes?
Often the words spoken naturally are all you need to figure out what to buy even on short notice.
Consider buying second hand gifts
For someone who appreciates fashion and odd trinkets or knows the value of certain collectibles, going to a thrift shop can be great and a unique experience. Keeping mind you know the person you are buying a gift for.
When deciding when it's okay to buy a used or previously purchased item, just think of whether or not they would find it cool.
If they have always worn name brand items and shop for the latest in trend products maybe it's not the best time to test the waters of buying from a thrift shop.
Set a budget
Now you know who you are buying a gift for, you wrote down their names or circled the date of your coworkers birthday in your planner it's time to calculate how you will spend your funds.
Pull out your calendar and see how many paychecks you will get between now and the date of the event.
Is there enough time to factor in shipping if you wait until closer to the day or will you need to shop in person?
You can use the no-budget budget and as you write down your expenses for the month you begin saving for the gift or planner to buy it, you can factor in the price of your item.
Many times we want to buy several gifts for our family and friends but simply can not afford it.
One trick you can try is to save a week worth of lunch money or cut out something else from your budget temporarily.
We are creatures of habit and by now you know what you'd buy or how much you would spend. Write down the amount you'd be saving and stick to it.
$50 is more than enough money for a special gift in a store like TJ MAXX or Burlington, a store where several different items are sold not just clothes.
And if all you can afford to spend is $25 dollars then you can buy a $20 gift card for their favorite food spot [ Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Uber eats ] and put it in a card where you can add a personalized custom message.
Often it's not what you buy it's how you present it and the meaning you emphasize that's behind it.
Start thinking about it early
How early is too early?
There is no such thing as preparing too far in advance.
Shopping after Christmas sales for future events is a key part of being budget savvy. For someone who has shopped smartly all year round, and even jump started their savings, this is not something that ruins their budget.
Take advantage of semi annual sales
Think about who and what you're buying for.
As someone who loves candles if you saw them on sale after the holidays for $11.95 instead of $24.95 it would make sense to buy one and save it for a birthday or anniversary that would come the following year.
Shopping months in advance only works if you don't get sucked in to the bright moving animations of a marketing email or promotion.
Have a purpose when you shop
I bought 6 discounted lotions that became 4 different gifts through out the year.
The key is to not buy items that are Christmas themed unless you are positive you'll wait that long to regift it.
You can even invest and indulge yourself when you know it will save you money in the long run.
Stick to your shopping list
We are all guilty of retail therapy.
During a season where you are supposed to buy gifts for other people it becomes easier to justify purchases you normally would not have made. Reconnecting with old friends suddenly makes us want to buy them a gift.
The earlier you are able to start financially preparing for gift buying even if you feel you are broke or don't have enough money, the more wiggle room you will have when it comes to buying gifts.
This year my budget for Christmas shopping consist of 7 people and I was able to stick to my holiday budget all the way until the end.
When it came time to add up my expenses I only went $6 over budget until I realized I had not included my partners mother and sister in my plans.
This is a prime example of why when you make your budget, you have to think about who you're buying gifts for.
If the same situation happened to someone without a financial cushion to fall back on, the idea of buying something else would have been filled with anxiety and worry.
Shop Black Friday
Black Friday shopping this past year has allowed me to buy appliances normally marked at $80-$100 for $40-$50.
I remember being disappointed one year because I didn't find anything to spend money on. The next year I compensated by ordering a lot of junk that I can't recall.
Do your research
Every couple of days in October and November I googled when is the best time to buy headphones, blankets, bedding, Tv's etc.
I checked different websites and also stayed up to date on what NOT to buy during certain months and in the end it saved me over a $100.
My friend taught me the ways of Honey and until it found $15 in coupons to apply to my cart I didn't realize how well it worked.
Honey is a browser extension that will find you any coupons and promotional codes that are active. At checkout Honey will apply them to your cart and if you qualify for the coupons then you will be able to save automatically.
Use your sinking fund
Buying items with money put away specifically for shopping can be relieving.
A sinking fund allows you to buy something and stay on budget without trying. I'd rather have a sinking fund in cash because it can be tempting to whip out your debit card and spend more than you allotted to your spending money.
Buy discounted gift cards
I got this idea from DollarsPlusSense and I think it is such an easy cool money saving idea.
One of the websites she includes is Raise where you'll see a gift card for $25 and only spend $22.50 to buy it.
There are other cases where the gift card amount won’t be a round number like a $25 and instead will say $26.25 which can be awkward to give to someone.
One solution is to buy the discounted card and make the purchase yourself. That way you're giving a great gift to someone and you already saved a few dollars while outside shopping.
Quality over Quantity
One thoughtful gift beats several mini gifts that don't have any real meaning behind it.
Keep in mind you can find great small cheap gifts too. Have patience with yourself.
We all have moments of wanting our gifts to be the best and begin to confuse the idea of what makes us desire and value a present.
By using the tips above and adapting them to your own lifestyle you can learn ways to save more money on gifts no matter what your income is.
We all set boundaries effectively when we set a budget limit and stick to it, ultimately building discipline along the way. Budgeting doesn't make you cheap and spending every last penny doesn't make your gift the best —there's a balance.
You can be thoughtful, generous, and keep your savings in the process.
If you enjoyed this post make sure you hit the like button! Scroll to join our mailing list to stay up to date on the latest tips to grow your mind and your wallet.
Let us know in the comments how you plan to save money when buying gifts this year.