How to Save Money with Great Gift Ideas

Want to save $1000 this year for very little effort? Gift giving is an area where impulse buying is a frequent occurrence. I was amazed to discover I was spending over $1500 or more per year for gifts. What have you spent for gifts in the last 12 months?

In my experience, gifts were last minute purchases for which money was no object. I now spend less than $500 per year for gifts. Take two hours of your life and save yourself $1000 or more per year on gift giving.

Get Prepared


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Label 12 manila folders January – December. On the front of each monthly folder, write the days of the month. Next to the appropriate date on the folder, write in the occasion for which a gift and/or a card will need to be purchased. Then, write the amount of money you will spend on that gift. Inevitably, a wedding or birthday will come up that you didn’t know about, so be sure you leave a little money left for these unexpected occasions.

The key is, don’t exceed what you budgeted for each gift. For example, for Mother’s Day, I will write $15 next to the holiday. I only allocate $400 for the known holidays and set aside $100 for the unexpected gifts such as a wedding or birth of a child. You may find that you are unable to budget $500 a year for gift giving. Just determine what you can afford and STICK WITH IT. Don’t deviate from your budget.

Advance Planning

There are very real benefits to planning your gift-giving in advance. And, with a little creativity, you can bring your overall cost down substantially. Because you’re prepared, you can actually enjoy the holidays. You won’t feel financially strapped since you’ve budgeted for the gifts in advance. Since you’ve anticipated the gift-giving occasion, you will undoubtedly find the gifts on sale. It goes without saying, but the ideas is, NEVER PAY RETAIL – EVER!

Frugal Gift Ideas

Buy gift-wrap and greeting cards on sale, or better yet, make them yourself.
Shop for gifts all year long to get the best price. This may mean you could be buying Christmas cards in January.
Plant an herb garden for a friend. And, while you’re at it, make one for yourself too.


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Treat your partner/spouse to a homemade spa. Give him/her a gift certificate announcing a full one-hour body massage and facial. This gift is easily worth over $75!
Organize personal negatives and photographs for a friend or family member. Create a scrapbook, photo books, or even Photo CDs.
Make some creative hand puppets for a child if you have mismatched socks and buttons lying around your home.

Create a care package for a friend who recently got a new job. In a box or basket put some instant coffee, tea bags, aspirin, bandages, travel size toothpaste and toothbrush, along with a coffee cup.
If the friend is a female, add some trial size products such as perfume and hair spray. If you want to increase the value of the gift, give a portable umbrella.
Design a similar package for a recent high-school graduate student who will be entering college. You may want to even provide a $5 phone card instead of an umbrella.
Buy movie tickets… a gift where one size fits all. When movie tickets are purchased in advance from movie theatres, you can usually get them at half price!

Offer to make dinner for your friends if you’re a good cook.
Give a single friend or elderly family member freshly frozen
dinners for a week.
Mail out holiday cards for an elderly family member. if you’re computer literate, put their address book into a database so the information can easily be updated.
Make a year’s worth of greeting cards and personalized stationery for someone if you’re a bit crafty.

Make enough birthday cards, anniversary cards, and blank cards for a year’s worth of holidays. The thoughtfulness will go a long way throughout the year.
Help someone else get organized. If the person you need to give a gift to is an entrepreneur or extremely disorganized, make a filing system for the upcoming tax year.
Purchase gift-with-purchase cosmetic/perfume specials and split the gifts. Usually the gift is nicely wrapped, generic, and valuable enough to give away for an upcoming gift in your tickler file.

Getting Organized


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In a drawer or closet, place the gift giving manila files, the greeting cards, gift-wrap and purchased gifts in chronological order. This is now your tickler file and shopping list to remind you what holiday is coming up.

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