I recently posted about cutting down my working hours to 3 days as a teacher. The rubber has really hit the road now and we need to make some tough calls in relation to our budgets.
One massive cost that appears on the budget is presents. I worked out that just in my family alone there are 39 birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day and Christmas presents to be bought. Our family figured out that roughly $40-$50 per gift seemed about right.
Add to this friend’s birthdays, engagements, weddings, christenings, sympathy gifts, thank you gifts and $2,500 to $3,000 seems like a reasonable annual estimate. This is no longer sustainable for us as a family nor is it an effective use of our money.
Does this conversation ever happen to you?
You: “Hey. I realise your birthday is coming up and I’d like to get you something. What would you like?”
Them: “Umm… I’m not sure.”
You: “A shirt, DVD, book, CD, shorts?”
Them: “Hmmm. How about cash or a gift card at XYZ store?”
You: “Okay.” [Sigh]
Cash and gift cards, while useful just seem incredibly impersonal and our finances cannot sustain that amount per present anymore. It also doesn’t allow to use wisdom and research in your gift giving. I love buying an expensive gift on sale and wowing the person with something that might actually be useful to them.
First step I’m thinking will be to lower the amount spent per gift. I’m happy to eat humble pie and say “We have allocated most of our income towards investments. We have cut down our hours to spend more time with our family and we love you, but, we may need to be more creative with our gift giving.”
I think we will next think about giving gifts that build the relationship and affirm the person. The amount of times I’ve scratched something meaningless on a card and whacked $50 in the envelope is innumerable.
Perhaps a better gift and a more affordable one would be something that we have invested time into creating. Pinterest here I come! Another potential idea will be to invite the person to dinner, or take them out somewhere special. Quality time instead of dollars.
If you have any ideas for what you do, I’d love to hear them.