Miss Funny Money: Gift Giving Without the Guilt

by Allison M. Komyanek 

Gift givingWhy is Christmas referred to as “the season of giving” when, in reality, the buying never seems to end? With Birthdays, showers, weddings, graduations, births, anniversaries…the list of gift giving occasions goes on and on. So, how does someone on a tight budget give presents to so many different people for so many different special moments? It’s not always easy, but here are a few helpful tips:

1) Be creative. Gifts don’t always have to be bought. I once had a friend who was celebrating her Birthday, so as a present, I gave her “40 things I like about you”. I bought a mason jar at Wal-Mart 40th and filled it with 40 Popsicle sticks and wrote one reason I like being her friend on each. It can really brighten someone’s day, without braking your bank.

Another creative gift idea? As a housewarming present, give a delicious smelling hand soap and package it with two or three hand towels. It’s totally something the new homeowners will need, and fairly inexpensive for you. For more creative gift giving ideas, check out Pinterest! It’s a creative site that will help even the least creative person, come up with some creative ideas.

2) Be cooperative. If you know a few other ladies invited to the same wedding shower as you, or if your siblings are invited to the same Birthday party, ask them to go in on a gift together. Doing so usually allows you to give a gift that would normally be out of the question and still save.

3) Be strategic. I suggest you pay attention to store rules (they can often work to your advantage). For example, did you know that your Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons never expire? It’s true…they just put that expiration date on there for political reasons. The truth is, they’re good forever! At Kohl’s, while you cannot use more than one “percent off” coupon, you can partner a “percent off” coupon with a “dollar off” deal. JCPenny has a price match guarantee and will match the price of any competitor for the same item, all you need to do is bring in the advertisement. While it can be tiresome keeping track of all these rules, knowing them (and instituting them) can save you tons!

I also suggest joining as many “clubs” as you are offered. For example, I belong to Hallmark Rewards, and I very rarely pay for the cards I need. Every month I get coupons like $2 or $5 off—it’s great! I get deals on wrapping paper and other supplies too. Stores often have a rewards program of some sort and they’re almost always free to join. Even if you don’t shop there that often, I suggest joining them and reaping the rewards when you can!

4) Be honest. If you really can’t afford to give someone a gift for their special occasion, just be honest. Let them know that while you do really wish them a happy birthday, but that you just can’t swing a gift right now. Instead, invite them over for dinner or surprise them by doing a chore for them. If someone folded my laundry as a birthday present, I’d consider it the best gift ever!

Happy Gift Giving! 

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