We all have it – a few months of the year where EVERYONE seems to have a birthday or an anniversary. In my world it’s July.
July is a busy month for me in terms of birthdays – mum, dad and sister all have birthdays this month, and this is EXPENSIVE! Gifts, cards, wrapping and eating out all add up. I’m sure you have months like this too.
In recent years, I’ve made it my mission to have money set aside for gift giving, and aimed for £100 per person roughly. I thought this was pretty reasonable but then discovered what others in my family do like my other half Tom.
Giving too much?
My boyfriend was shocked when I told him how much I set aside. He thought it was far too much and has a completely different view when it comes to gift giving. With debt to pay, and savings to build, he believes I shouldn’t be spending too much on unnecessary things like presents.
It’s safe to say that he doesn’t tend to overspend on anything! So I thought it would be interesting to explore why I do and share my tips for how to set up a fund ready to go specifically for gift giving.
Could it be guilt?
Gift giving patterns can often be a sign of something else going on underneath. For example, do you ever feel guilty when it comes to buying gifts? Maybe because you don’t see the person enough, or you’re always working so you buy the kids treats on the way home all the time to “make up for it”.
I noticed a lot of guilt in my own gift giving – I often OVER give because I feel like only giving someone one thing, or just a small thing isn’t good enough. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m being cheap (especially with family) or stingy, so I give more than is probably necessary and deprive myself to balance this out in the meantime.
Feelings of guilt often stem from an unconscious desire to please people and be accepted by others. It’s an historical need to be part of “the tribe” and not be left behind.
I’m now trying to be conscious of how much I spend, and telling myself its ok to only give a card sometimes (like for wedding anniversaries), especially with Christmas coming up.
Remember what they say on planes – put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. I.e. if you don’t have enough for yourself, don’t give what you do have away to others first – even your kids.
Perhaps its a status thing?
Being a doctor brings with it a certain amount of expectation that I have money to spend on people. The real truth is that with my debt issues and trying to build my emergency fund and invest, I don’t have much money left over for anyone else.
The problem is, in my life, not many people think the way I do, so they will spend money as they normally would which ends up being a lot more than I’d like to. The expectation is then that I will be able to match this because I’m a doctor and therefore must be earning enough.
This sort of attitude needs to be ignored. I used to succumb to it, and ended up buying rounds of drinks for people who thought I could afford it for example. Not one to be embarrassed in public, I’d go ahead and do it (to keep up with the “Dr Jones’s”).
I certainly won’t be doing this any more! My whole family and all my friends now know that I have no extra money to spend extravagantly and that present buying will be kept to a minimum at all times! (it means the pressure is off them too!)
Christmas is a good time to start examining your own spending habits.
It’s an expensive time for everyone in general. There’s gift buying, tree dressing, extra food and apparently everyone is also in need of a new sofa or table if the furniture adverts are to be believed.
In addition to spending LESS on Christmas, having a proper fund set up ready and waiting would be a great way to ensure you don’t overdo it.
I didn’t always have cash ready for Christmas because I was usually in denial about it coming. 1st of December came around (like it does every year amazingly) and I used to have a mad scramble for the money to pay for gifts (or use a credit card).
If you do this, wouldn’t it be lovely to have a gift fund ready for once? Make it your mission to set aside some of your salary for gift giving, or if there isn’t any, go and find ways to make more money!
The Downsides Of Buying Too Much
January was ALWAYS a loooooooooooong month for me, pre-gift fund, because not only did I overspend and run out of money before the next payday, but I was always miserable in January because nothing fun was going on (not that I could have afforded to go out anyway!).
I think January blues is quite common on a universal level, but not having money and paying back credit cards makes it even worse.
To get myself out of a debt-hole, I’d usually then have to work extra shifts just to catch up with myself, and that’s no fun. Who in their right mind wants to work more hours just to pay off debt and further eat into precious free time? (answer: clearly me)
How do you deal with present buying?
So what are your unspoken gift rules? Are you an over-spender or do you have a good balance? Do you go into debt to buy gifts – Christmas especially?
If you’re serious about improving your money situation (and as you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are!), then what can you do around this area? Can you start a savings plan for Christmas now, so you wages last through until January payday. Think how good that will be!
But how could you go about sorting your budget out so that you can feel less stressed when it comes to gift giving?
Here are some ideas of the steps you could take:
- How much do you usually spend on gifts throughout the year? A review of last year’s bank statements will help with this.
- How many paydays do you have until the significant events? This is how many month you have to save! (ideally do this in January every year so you’re prepared, but it’s ok to start doing this any time)
- How much spare money do you have every month? (Note- if you don’t have this information, then you absolutely need to create a budget!)
- Split how much you want for event between the months you have left. This is the money you need to find!
- Figure out a way to achieve this goal WITHOUT using debt. Perhaps you need to reduce the amount you would spend on Christmas/birthdays this year or cut something drastic from your budget? The money saving expert even advocates not giving anything at all! This might be on the extreme end of the scale, but he has a point.
- If no savings are to be found, then you’ll need to bring in more money to cover the shortfall. Start selling things, learn how to do surveys/website testing online, take up mystery shopping assignments or do an extra shift or two (but don’t overdo it! You don’t want to end up burnt out).
- Open a savings account like Plum– it’s a fun, automatic savings app that helps you save without trying. You’ll be amazed at how much you can in a short space of time. It’s free and safe to use, so get it started ASAP!
- If all else fails – you could always make something! To be honest, I think home-made gifts are such a lovely present idea. Why not bake cakes/cookies or make jam and put it into pretty decorated jars? If you have kids, even better! You have your own Santa’s little helpers. 🙂
So what are you going to do to make gift giving a joy rather than a source of stress?
I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to come over to my facebook group and share with us or comment below.
Until next time,
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