I was one of those parents (and grandparents) who tended to go overboard at gift-giving times. I was usually more reasonable at birthdays, but Christmas was a budget-busting blowout. When I started reading Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, one of the ideas that stuck with me was “Christmas is not an emergency.” I have learned that lesson. Well, um… I’m still learning that particular lesson. I am a work in progress. In the meantime, there are always other opportunities for gift giving. Baby showers. Weddings. Anniversaries. There’s always something.
It might be a good idea to include a gift-giving budget as part of your Total Money Makeover. Put some money aside specifically for the purpose of giving gifts. When the money’s gone, it’s gone. Another way to consider this is to set a limit on how much to spend on a gift. Maybe $50 to $100 for a wedding gift. $25 to $50 for a birthday, shower, or Christmas gift. Whatever. You set the limits based upon your finances and stick to it.
Set limits for gift-giving based upon your budget and stick to it. Darcy Jones
Let me share two challenges Green Thyme’s family was working through. Her family’s goal this particular week was to eat every meal at home — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This was a real struggle since they usually ate out quite a bit. She and her husband had identified eating out as a real budget buster. They figured they spent more than $200 a month on this habit. She hit me up on Face Time so I could see her in the kitchen — cooking. So far, the week was going well. She packed lunches for herself and the kids; her husband packed his own. They were off to a good start. No stopping for drinks or snacks on the way home from work, school, or practice. If a side trip was needed, she packed snacks for all in the car.
This was also the week of my birthday. My three children were planning to chip in to get me a gift. “OK,” I said. “Don’t forget we’re all working on this money makeover. I don’t want you guys spending more than $25 to $50 each.” She chuckled but I was insistent. “I mean it. We’re all trying to spend our money differently. If you guys chip in on something, I want you to be reasonable.” She agreed to pass on the message.
The other bit of news she shared with me was how to save money on flowers. She wanted to send flowers as a birthday gift to a relative living out of state. Like many people do, she called a national online florist to place the order. She was disappointed to discover she couldn’t get what she wanted delivered for what she wanted to spend. Then, she had an epiphany. She’d call a flower shop in the city where she wanted the flowers delivered! She was pleasantly surprised. Not only was she able to order a beautiful arrangement and get it delivered, but it was less than her budgeted amount. The next time you need to order flowers online, remember Green Thyme’s success. Whether buying gifts or buying flowers for gifts, it’s important to work within your budget because every dime counts.