Exciting things are happening around me every day, and much of the excitement is rooted in the happy happenings of the lives of the people that I love most. Because celebrating these monumental events and congratulating and acknowledging the amazing accomplishments and milestones of my friends and family is extremely valuable to me, incorporating funding for gifts and a variety of shindigs into my budget is a top priority. I am really pumped about this post because giving people gifts they love is one of my favorite things to do, and I refuse to let a budget stop me from doing it well! This post describes the factors that impact how much I spend and where I pull money from so that a gifting purchase—even a larger one—doesn’t leave me with empty pockets at the end of the month.
There are 5 main factors that influence how much money I will spend
1. Occasion: Why is this gift being given? Is it a best friend’s wedding, or is it a silly Christmas exchange within your close circle of friends that is actually more of an excuse to see each other?
2. Dedicated Planning/Personalization: If more love and thought is put into the gift, its high sentimental value decreases the amount of money you need to spend to achieve a wow factor. When gifts are given with some serious thought and consideration, the thought really does count!
3. The Relationship: What is the relationship between the gift-giver and the lucky receiver? It is likely that a person buying a wedding gift for her best friend and only sister will be spending more money that the person that is buying a wedding gift for a college friend that’s only been seen three times in the past year.
4. Research: Purposefully taking time to explore all possible retailers and places/ways to purchase a particular gift can really save money. Not only can you look for different deals, but in some cases you can barter.
5. Planning: Many gift-giving occasions are events that we can see coming from far away—i.e., weddings, baby gifts, birthdays, Christmas—long term planning often correlates with higher incidence of finding “the perfect gift” at a really good price because consciously searching for a longer period of time.
How much money I need/want to spend determines what area of my budget I plan to pull from. There are 3 simple options when it comes to funding your gift/party expenses for the month:
1. Cash Envelope: For smaller celebrations and gifts, it is very easy to open your cash envelope for that pay period and use $20-$40 to buy a quality gift that fits the occasion. The real bonus of this option is that you spend no extra money! You simply take money that was dedicated towards buying something for yourself and switch its purpose to buying something for someone else
2. Create a Short Term Fund: A strong budget is a disciplined and flexible budget. Have a category on your budget spreadsheet that is designated for “gifts” or “extras”. Be aware that this category is not stable like rent. It will fluctuate from month to month, however it is important that you set a limit, and do what it takes to stay within your designated limit. There are a few different ways you can fund your gifts using this option:
- Envelope Rollover – Plan ahead and save $20-$50 from your cash envelope from few pay periods. This strategy switches the purpose of your spending envelope from yourself to someone else, just like option #1 did; however multiple weeks/months of saving is needed for larger occasions/gifts.
- Chunk Fund – If your paycheck is big enough, and you don’t want to/can’t roll over envelope money, take a chunk straight from your paycheck, and put it directly into the category you have set aside for gifts. This is much easier, but comes with a different price—you will have less money left over for savings/debt snowball at the end of the month.
3. Mash Up: It’s not necessarily an “either/or” situation when it comes to using envelope money or short term designated funding. It is completely okay to take some of the money you will use from your cash fund and put additionally money into the “gift” or “extras” fund. If what you really, really, want to get for someone can’t be bought with your allotted “gift” fund, absolutely take from your cash envelope to make it happen!
Here are some links to websites/webpages that have great ideas and options for quality gifts that won’t put a financial strain on you but will make it obvious you care:
Handmade Gift Ideas: http://www.everythingetsy.com/2011/08/101-simple-handmade-gift-tutorials/
Baby Gifts Ideas: http://www.everythingetsy.com/2012/03/101-handmade-baby-gift-tutorials/
Gifts for the Fellas: http://www.everythingetsy.com/2012/05/101-handmade-gifts-for-men-diy/
Gifts for your Girls: http://www.girlytwirly.com/
Unique/Personalized Gifts: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/
We Want to Know: How do you give a great gift without overspending?
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