Budget Conscious

It’s not hard to find ideas on how to save money these days.  For very real reasons frugality is on most minds right now. Although I don’t always practice it, I have a lifetime’s worth of training in serious savings. My mother was trained by my grandfather, who grew up during the Depression, and didn’t spend an extra penny on anything. He was quite proud of the fact that he was cheap. My mom was quite creative, and even though we didn’t have much money growing up she certainly knew how to make every dime stretch. Gift giving was one area I think my mom excelled, and I’ll share some of her ideas here over the next few months.

Of all the advice I’ve seen about saving money on presents, the most effective is probably of the “don’t give gifts” variety.  This usually involves discussing with family/friends and deciding as a whole to skip the gift giving part of holidays, especially Christmas. While this may be a great way to save money, it’s not at all fun.  And regardless of how many people you can convince when it comes to winter holidays, there will always be occasions when you need a present. Birthdays, weddings, baby showers, graduations, anniversaries…the list goes on and on. There is also something great about “just because” gifts.  So I’m just going to skip over the ways to not give gifts, and go straight to how you can afford to give great gifts!

In my humble opinion there are two things you have to have to give a good gift: a little forethought, and a little creativity. I give myself months to come up with presents. I start thinking about Christmas in August, and other occasions are usually in the back of my mind. I keep lists of gift ideas for various people. For example, I was out with my hubby last weekend and he said something that made me think of a great present for him, and I pulled out my little notebook and scribbled it down.  Now that I have an idea for him I can start looking for ways to make it happen on the cheap.  In the past we’ve limited each other to tiny dollar amounts for gifts so that money could go elsewhere. He came up with my favorite on a budget of $5.00. We were engaged and saving money for the wedding, and he had gathered photos different people had taken of us on their digital cameras and cell phones and had them printed up. He then took a collage frame we already had up with pictures of a party years ago, and replaced the photos with some of us. The rest were placed in the little plastic album they give you for free.  It was the sweetest gift – made me cry and everything. 

Some of the ideas I’ll share with you involve a little money, but some will be completely free!  A lot of those will involve making something, but I’ll try to share things that don’t require tons of skill, or tons of extra supplies. When you’re ready to start planning gifts I would suggest you jot down a list of people first. Then take a bit of an inventory of what your resources are. Do you have any skills? Any supplies or materials? Any money? Anything lying around the house you don’t need? Even old, worn out clothes can be a resource – they are fabric after all!  Think outside the box and get ready for the gushing thanks you will receive when you present your thoughtful and creative gift!

Are you inspired? I hope so! I know I am!  Tomorrow I’m going to start with some basic ideas that I hope will be a good jumping off point. I’ve got some tips for Etsy Blossoms on Thursday about buying handmade on a budget, and Friday I’ve got some link love.  Oh, and wait till you see what I’ve got next week!

 

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