Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Saving on Gifts
I had promised you that I'd do a post on how we save money on gifts. I didn't intend to make you wait this long but we had some unexpected things come up- one of which includes me being on what I guess you'd call partial bed rest. Sunday night I started having contractions (I'm only 30 wks. pregnant) and to make a long story short we got them stopped but were told that I am basically just to sit around and not really do any housework. I'm hoping that at my doctor appointment on Fri. they will tell me I can resume working but in the meantime I'm trying hard to rest, which really wasn't too hard the last two days since I had only gotten 3 hrs. of sleep Sunday night!
Anyway, I finally feel like my brain is clear enough and like I have energy enough to blog again. So here's the promised post!
One of the areas in our budget that we seem to consistently struggle in is the category of "Gifts Given". I think every year since we got married 5 years ago and began budgeting we've gone over our dollar amount for this category. And we've even upped the amount. I think one of the reasons it is difficult to budget for is because you never know at the beginning of the year just who all you are going to need or want to buy gifts for. As much as we try to plan, it seems there are still those unexpected weddings we are invited too or that baby that we didn't know about in Jan. when we made our budget. Or I decide I really want to give one of my friends a birthday gift this year just because. At any rate, we like to be able to give gifts freely and do not want to let our budget keep us from the joy of giving. And so we give and somehow compensate our budget from other categories we are under in.
I've also tried to get really serious about finding ways to save money in this whole area of gift giving. I'm still learning but have found a few things that have saved us a bit while still allowing us to give gifts in ways that we feel good about. (We do NOT want to give cheap, cheasy gifts just to stay in budget! My husband says it would be better to give no gift at all than to give a cheap, cheasy gift and I think I agree.)
Here are some of the things we've done to save money giving gifts.
1. Plan and buy ahead
This alone is huge. If you wait until the day before a wedding to get a gift you are almost guaranteed to pay full price! However, if you plan ahead you can almost always at least save a couple of dollars one way or another.
At the beginning of the year think of all the gifts you will likely give that year- weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and Christmas gifts. Then begin watching for items on sale or clearance to give for these occasions. I am constantly on the lookout for baby clothes for baby gifts, household items for wedding gifts and kid's items and fun, small things for the people I give birthday gifts too. In fact we have a gift box in our attic that I try to always have a few go-to gifts in so that if I suddenly have an event sneak up on me I at least have something on hand and don't need to go pay full price for an item.
Of course you don't always know in January just what occasions you are going to get invited to that year. But as you get invitations to events begin watching right away for gifts. You might even find it helpful to make a list of people you need to buy gifts for as well as a few ideas of what you'd like to get for them.
2. Watch daily deal sites
Daily deal sites offer deals on everything from gift cards to flowers to toys to household items to clothing. In the past I've posted these deals (and this is only a handful of the great deals you can score through daily deal sites): National Geographic Kids- Mamapedida, Old Navy- Groupon, Flowers from a Florist- Savemore, American Girl Doll- RuLaLa. Many sites offer sign up bonuses which allow you to get deals for an even lower price.
3. Shop sales, do rebates and use coupons
This is one of my main ways of saving money on gifts. Just recently there was this deal at JCPenney and I was able to snag something for a wedding gift. Today there is a deal on toys at Kohl's. And I frequently use store coupons from Kohl's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Carters, and JCPenney to save on gift items as well. If you shop online, don't forget to use ShopAtHome or Ebates to save even more. It's not much, but it really does add up!
4. Save with Gift Cards
A lot of people register for their baby and wedding gifts any more and for myself, I actually enjoy knowing what someone wants, so I like this. But it does make it a bit harder to save on their gifts. Besides using store coupons as mentioned above to get registry items cheaper, I also have bought gift cards at Gift Card Rescue and used them to buy the gift registry item(s), typically saving another couple of dollars. Another site that is similar is Plastic Jungle. These sites are also great sites to buy gift cards at a discounted rate to give as gifts.
5. Get Creative
I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not the most creative person and when it comes to craft projects? Well, I really stink. But even I have been able to pull off creating some of my own gifts.
Some of the other things I've done have include using Amazon gift cards earned through Swagbucks to buy gifts for people, buying things rather inexpensively on Ebay, and several times I've found items on Freecycle that were gift-able.
And to end this post I just have to tell you a big way that both my family and my husband's family saves on Christmas gifts. Not only do we exchange names, which cuts the cost of things drastically, we also have decided it's okay to give second hand gifts. This has actually been a lot of fun and it's amazing what "expensive" items people have found at yard sales, thrift stores and the like for a little bit of nothing. This cuts the cost of our gift giving down considerably and yet we still have a blast being able to bless each other in this way.
What are your top ways to save money on gifts?