Is gift giving on a budget possible? The winter holiday season is supposed to be a joyous and fun one. People give gifts to their loved ones to show their affection and love. But, gift giving can really put a strain on your budget. In 2014, a Gallup poll found that people expected to spend about $720 on gifts. Although the majority of people surveyed by Consumer Reports said that they paid off any credit card debt from holidays in the next billing cycle, 7% said they were still paying off the previous year’s holiday spending almost 12 months later.
You don’t have to put on your Grinch hat or be a Scrooge when it comes to gift giving to stay out of debt during the holidays. Rethink how you give gifts to save money and stay on budget.
Set Up a Pollyanna
If you have a large family or a big circle of friends, buying gifts for everyone can quickly push you over budget. Instead of everyone buying gifts for everyone else, switch to the Pollyanna or Secret Santa method. At the start of the holiday season, have people pick a name out of a hat. The name they choose is the person they will buy a gift for. Set a spending limit that everyone is comfortable with, whether it’s $25, $50 or $100. Have people make short wish lists of the items they’d like for the holidays, to take some of the stress out of picking a present.
Host a Swap
Many people have items in their homes that they never use or never even took out of the packaging. Instead of having everyone buy something new for everyone else, consider hosting a gift swap. People can bring an item or two from home that’s in great condition and put it in the swap pile. Have your friends or relatives pick numbers out of a hat. Whoever picks the number one gets first dibs on picking a gift from the pile, and so on.
The focus of the swap doesn’t have to be on gifts. You can hold a cookie swap instead, during which everyone brings a batch of cookies to share, or a recipe swap, during which everyone brings copies of a favorite recipe to share with others.
Instead of giving your family or friends physical gifts, you can agree to enjoy an experience together, whether it’s going to a sports game as a group, enjoying a cooking lesson, or participating in a cheese or wine tasting. Group experiences tend to be less expensive than physical objects, and they don’t add clutter to people’s homes. Years from now, you’re more likely to remember an experience you shared with your loved ones than you are a gift someone gave you or a physical gift you gave someone else.
Kids tend to get the most excitement out of the holidays. If there are a number of children, nieces, nephews or grand kids in your life, you and the other adults can agree only to buy presents for them, not the parents or aunts and uncles, too. Another option is to buy one big gift for the entire family, instead of separate presents for each member.
Whether you are still paying off last year’s holiday debt or want to avoid taking on any this year, CESI can help. Contact us today for more advice on creating a holiday shopping budget and for help dealing with any debt you already have.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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