gift giving

Has Gift Giving Got Out Of Hand? How To Correct The Balance.

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Expensive months of giving

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.

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.


Christmas is another 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. 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).

The Downsides Of Buying Too Much

January is then ALWAYS a loooooooooooong month, 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.

Then i’d usually 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?

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!

Can you halve the amounts you spend on people? This is what I’ll be doing this Christmas so that I’m not tempted back into credit card spending. I have a post on setting aside money for giving to others in your budget every month.

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.

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….

Until next time,

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