Depending on who you are, you might see gift giving as a huge chore or as a fun and easy way to express your gratitude and affection for friends, family members, romantic partners, and coworkers. However, whether or not gift giving stresses you out personally, you have to admit it can be a big drain on your wallet.
There are many ways to save on birthday and holiday gift giving, though. Make your friends and family smile without breaking the bank by following these five tips anytime a birthday or holiday comes up!
1. Buy (or at least plan) as far in advance as possible.
Believe it or nor, I’ve got almost half of my Christmas shopping for the end of 2017 done already—and, yes, I am writing this in January.
The huge rush to buy gifts during the holiday season can mean you’re putting out a lot of money at once. While there are great sales during the holidays, buying gifts for all your friends, family, and acquaintances at once can be incredibly stressful on your emotions and your wallet.
One of the best ways to avoid stress and save money when buying holiday gifts is buying in advance. Spreading out the spending across several months or a year instead of a few weeks can make the overall strain on your finances easier to bear, and it also usually means you’ll be giving better, more thoughtful gifts because you won’t be feeling rushed.
What’s better than saving a ton of money while becoming known as an excellent gift giver?
This strategy works for birthdays as well. Know your best friend or spouse’s birthday is coming up in June? Start thinking about or looking for a great gift in March, and you’re sure to find something amazing, and quite possibly at a better deal.
If you think doing all your shopping in advance will be too much for you to handle, or you really don’t want to miss out on those Black Friday deals, you should at least make a plan in advance.
If you know what you’re getting all the most important people in your life during the holiday season, you’ll cut down on impulse buying and give yourself an opportunity to look for the best deal possible.
2. Shop around.
Seriously—just because you see a shirt that would look great on your brother or a lamp you know your best friend would love to put in her office, you shouldn’t buy it right away. Instead, arm yourself with information such as brand, a model number or name, and anything else specific to that item, then start searching online.
There’s a good chance you’ll find the same item cheaper somewhere else, whether it’s at another store or through an online retailer. If you plan far enough in advance, you also won’t have to worry about paying ridiculous rush shipping charges.
3. Make something—or consider buying handmade.
There are a lot of people out there who appreciate a handmade gift more than anything else. Of course, handmade gifts aren’t right for everyone, but if there’s someone in your life who appreciates thoughtfulness and hard work more than money, you should consider making something for that person.
Put some of your talent and creativity to work. If you’re a carpenter or some kind of artist in your spare time, use that skill to make something unique and meaningful for someone on your gift-giving list.
If you’re truly talented and put time and thought into your gift, this won’t feel at all like cheaping out. Also, you can often make a higher-quality product than you could buy. Let’s go back to the carpentry example—instead of buying your friend a $300 chair, you could make a comparable one with $100 (or less!) worth of materials.
If you aren’t one to make gifts, you should also consider buying handmade. Outlets like Etsy, as well as local artisan markets, can save you a ton of money. In addition, your gift will look very thoughtful and sincere, and you can feel great about supporting a small businessperson.
Planning ahead and shopping around are also beneficial if you go this route, however. There are plenty of artisans and artists out there who overcharge for their work, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Also, if you’re making something yourself, give yourself time to shop around for materials and put a lot of effort into your gift.
4. Use rewards programs to your advantage.
In addition to the sticker price, think about what you’re getting along with the gift—added benefits such as free shipping and rewards loyalty programs can save you a ton of money, especially if you buy often at the same place.
If you use Amazon for one gift, buying a few more on Amazon might get you free shipping. If you’re buying a gift card, consider buying it from a retailer that offers gift card discounts instead of directly from the store whose name is on the card. Many grocery stores and pharmacies, for example, sell gift cards, and give bonus loyalty program points on gift card purchases!
You can also use credit cards rewards programs to help offset some of the expense of gift giving; just be sure to do so responsibly.
5. Consider giving experiences instead of objects.
While a fancy dinner or concert tickets aren’t necessarily cheaper than a gift from a store, giving experiences can often feel more thoughtful than giving objects. Also, you’ll save money on shipping and minimize the chances that you’ll spend on other things online or at the store. You’ll also save yourself some of the stress of holiday shopping.
This is especially good advice when it comes to people you’re very close to, such as immediate family members, spouses or serious romantic partners, and best friends. If you and your spouse both love a particular music artist, buy a pair of tickets to see that person perform—you’ll likely save a little money over a traditional gift, and you’ll be able to make a great memory with one of your favorite people.
There are other types of experiential gifts that can be even cheaper. For example, if you’re in dire financial straits but have a friend who loves hiking, plan a day with your friend at a nearby national or state park. This can be free or extremely cheap for you, but will definitely feel thoughtful to your friend.
Have any more great ideas to save money buying gifts? Post them in the comments below!