53 Surprisingly Frugal Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays

Have You Started Thinking
About the Holidays?

 

The kids are going back to school, and that means Christmas is just around the corner. Let’s talk about Christmas budgets or holiday budgets, whatever that will mean for your family.

 

FRUGAL GIFT GIVING

 

Begin With a List of Holiday Expenses.

 

What are you responsible for this holiday season?

 

Are you hosting dinner? Are you responsible for the full meal, or can you request each guest to bring a small item to help?

 

Some small items could be a bag of buns, a salad, pickle tray, cheese tray, one or two non-alcoholic beverages, etc. It’s the little things that can add up (beyond the cost of meat and potatoes!) therefore don’t be shy on asking people to spend $5-10 on a donation to the meal.

 

Doing a gift exchange with work?

 

Do you have teachers to purchase for?

 

Take a few minutes and brainstorm what you need to deal with over the month of December.

 

Do Inventory in Your Home.

 

Do you have a gift stash somewhere? Do you still have wrapping paper and Christmas cards? Check to see what you will need, and make a list of the gifts you may have already purchased, and what incidentals you will require.

 

Make a full list of all the people you will be giving presents to this year. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Aunts & uncles
  • Cousins
  • Neighbours
  • Teachers
  • Paper carrier
  • Mail carrier
  • Babysitter
  • Service providers
  • Friends
  • Spouse
  • Coworkers
  • Employees
  • Employers
  • School bus drivers
  • Nursing home residents
  • Donations to charity/families in need
  • Pets

 

Once you have your list, prioritize. Who are the most important people on your list to buy for?

 

Be Honest With Your Budget

 

How much do you want to spend this year? This is a big question. How much CAN you AFFORD to spend? If it’s September, you will have 3-4 months to save up. How much can you truly afford to spend?

 

Start by budgeting a figure for the top priority people on your list. That may be children, grandchildren, parents, etc. Give each person a value and then deduct it from your budget. Does it fit? How much is left? Count the remaining people on your list and divide by the difference. How much per person?

 

Example:

Budget: $500.00

I know I need wrapping paper, tape and bows. I have cards. My estimate is $30 for supplies. I will deduct $30 from my budget.

I have 6 people who are top priority to buy for. Since my budget is now at $470, and I have more than 6 on my list, my plan would be to spend about $30 per person on my priority list. 6 people at $40 is $180. I deduct that from my budget of $470, and I am left with $230.

I have 10 people on my secondary list, and I have $230 remaining. I know I want to give two gifts to a charity, so that’s 12 people. I can spend $19.16 per gift.

 

How to Maximize Your Spending Allowance

 

There’s more than one way to buy for people. Here are some suggestions that will help you maximize your per person gift costs:

  • Do you have any pre-bought gifts? Who can you give them to?
  • Do you have any gifts you’ve received and are still in new condition? Can you regift?
  • Do you have any gift cards you’ve bought or received and can gift?
  • Have you earned any points on credit cards and can purchase items at a discount or with points or money on the card?
  • Can you exchange rewards for gift cards?
  • Instead of purchasing for each adult relative, can you make a secret santa draw and only buy for one at a higher value than each of them individually?
  • Has your family discussed just shopping for the under-18 crowd?
  • Try a mystery gift where each person spends $10-20 on one gift that could be for anyone (like gift cards, socks, etc.) and do a gift game where people can “steal”, pick and trade wrapped gifts. Whatever you end up with is your mystery gift!
  • Shop at a bulk store and package gifts into baskets:
    • Can you buy movie tickets at a discount and pair them with movie snacks bought in bulk and divided up?
    • Gifts in a jar or gifts in a box are very popular. Is it cheaper to give gifts in a jar?

Here are some examples of gifts in a jar:

 

More Inexpensive Bulk Ideas

  • Make a bulk batch of wine at your local craft wine location and create holiday labels, like “Merry Christmas from our family to yours” or check out some ideas here.
  • Try glass etching on wine glasses. You can find the etching solution at your local craft store, and wine glasses at a dollar store. Make a set of four Christmas wine glasses for under $10, or make a set of two and fill with candy or some other treat for even less.

 

Make ornaments.

There are so many ways to be creative with ornaments:

 

Search online for different ornaments you can “diy”. Depending on your crafty skill, you could create some complex gifts, and even if you are not crafty at all, you will find some that look wonderful and are very easy to do.

 

By packaging these with some nice ribbon, a gift box or bag, you can make an inexpensive homemade gift outshine the most expensive trinket.

 

Be Creative

  • Get together with a couple of friends and make big batches of cookies. Share and divide the cookies up, and then divide them again into smaller gift boxes lined with parchment paper. Many people crave the homemade Christmas treats but never have the time (or interest) in making the treats themselves.
  • Check out your direct sales representatives. Many reps have Christmas packages on sale and they make great basket gifts. Display them in a bag, basket or caddy with a big bow.
  • Design something that will last through the year. Find an inexpensive journal or notebook and take some stickers or washi tape and decorate the book. Create a theme, like inspirational, devotional or reminder to your parent/child of your love and support for them. Include a picture or two, and/or a small gift card.
  • Check out Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Be careful not to get carried away or purchase things that you are not familiar with online. You might be dissatisfied or surprised with what actually comes in the mail.
  • Give a gift of time. As discussed in my post about saving for the holidays, there is no shame in giving the gift of time. The time given for parents to go on a date, a single mother to grocery shop alone, or anything that requires childcare is a gift in itself. Offer to child sit for a couple of hours while your friends or family enjoy the time to themselves.
  • Give a gift of service. Do you mind cleaning, cooking or shopping for others? You can offer to clean a house, cook a couple of meals or go errand shopping for relatives who may not be as capable to do that themselves. Don’t be surprised if the job you offer is worth more to them than a plant or a new pair of slippers.
  • Consider sharing an event with friends instead of gift giving. Have a fondue party, watch a movie with gourmet popcorn, or go for a wine tasting tour.

 

Time is Money too

 

After reading these “DIY” and inexpensive gift ideas, I want you to remember something.

Remember that your time is worth money too, so never be embarrassed about gifting something that did not come prepackaged at the store.

 

Your time is worth money too, so never be embarrassed about gifting something that did not come prepackaged at the store. - On Gift Giving The Frugal Way Click To Tweet

 

Small Tokens of Appreciation
are Worth More

 

Some of the people on your list, like teachers and service providers, often receive small tokens of thanks from their clients, students or customers. Do not feel obligated to give anything other than a card if you cannot afford it. Also, a $5 – $10 coffee gift card is often more appreciated than another mug, serving plate or trinket purchased from the local department stores.

 

Minimalism Counts

 

There are two conditions on gifts that we aim for in our house: consumable and memorable. We no longer search for trinkets, big gifts, etc., as we are all adults and can purchase much of what we want for ourselves. We aim for items that are consumable (think socks, towels, blankets – things that can be used every day or used up and that we would normally need anyways) and memorable (like event tickets, gift cards, investment donations, charitable donations, etc.).

 

Review the Budget

 

Looking at the number of people you would like to gift something to, is there anyone that you could move into a homemade gift section or a token of appreciation? Are there people who you no longer feel the need to purchase for? Can you reduce that budget? Can you ask others for gift bags that are in good condition to use for gifting?

 

If you are just starting out, be realistic with your budget. Times are tough for many people, and you might be surprised at how many people would be relieved to do something different this year.

 

Good luck!

 

 

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This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

7 Changes That Have Saved Us Over $1,000

7 Changes That Have
Saved Us Over $1,000

 

savings

 

It is now halfway through the year, and one of our resolutions was to save money that we did not need to spend. Here’s how I’ve saved in 2018:

 

  1. I changed banks. I went from $17/month for a chequing account with a traditional bank, and have now switched over to a credit union. While getting the same benefits, plus some extras, I have saved $119.00 to date.

 

  1. My new chequing account comes with free cheques. Yes, I still use cheques for things like rent and service providers. I probably write 2-3 a month, depending on the month. Savings for not paying for cheques: approximately $65 – and since I’ve ordered cheques twice in the last year, the savings has doubled to $130.00.

 

  1. Much like many others, I called my cable provider, who also provides me with internet. I explained that we do not watch tv (we prefer Netflix or the internet), and requested to cancel our service for cable tv. In turn, they provided us with a promotion that allowed us to keep the cable tv (which we still do not watch) for a year, free of charge, while bundled with our internet. Savings: approximately $35/month, which is $245.00 to date.

 

  1. Utilities: we have been much more mindful of using less hydro and gas. We shut lights off when we are not in the room, we disconnect chargers not in use, and we do our laundry at off-times for better hydro rates. (We have not done less laundry, as a result, but the savings of off-hours is much better.) We do not have central air, so we purchased a large air conditioner with power saver modes. Our bill for the month of July was the lowest it’s been all year. Savings: approximately $50 to date.

 

  1. Gas: We have two cars because we work in opposite ends of the region. This year, my partner’s car turned 19 years old (no, it was not a Toyota!) and was near its life span. For 350,000 kms, we can’t complain. So, we retired our old Cavalier, and my partner took over my 8 year old SUV, and I purchased a brand new hatch. Now, there’s some argument to buying brand new, but my financing is at 0%, and the car uses a third less gas than my SUV. Savings over the last three months: approximately $120.00.

 

  1. Insurance: By combining our two cars into one insurance policy, we actually saved quite a bit. My partner has been driving for … well, he’ll say forever… but let’s say 25 years, and I’m about half that. Put those together with my SUV and new car, and we are saving about $50 a month on insurance. Over the last three months, that would be $150.00.

 

  1. Mylo: a savings app that rounds up to the dollar each transaction that goes through my bank account and credit cards, and transfers the change to an investment account. Savings so far: $190.42.

 

Phew! We’ve saved $1,004.42 over the last year just by making these simple changes. That’s over a thousand dollars to have more fun with! We’ve paid down some debts, invested some money, and took an early vacation with all of our savings.

 

There are others that we’ve implemented, and recommend, such as:

 

  • Taking your own beverage on the road (Latte factor, anyone?)
  • Booking vacations during off seasons to get a better rate
  • Combining our outings to eliminate waste of gas
  • Shopping at discount stores for clothing
  • Paying attention to fliers to stock up on sale items
  • Having simple dinners now and again that are cheap to buy

 

While lots of these ideas have been around for a long time, they still work. Which ones do you do? How have you saved money this year?

 

 

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This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites. 

How Much Would You Pay For Tomorrow?

How Much Would You
Pay For Tomorrow?

 

Can money buy time?

 

Can you pay for an extra Saturday or another Monday?

Many of you have probably read multiple articles on how time can be bought with money. Financial freedom or FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) followers believe that having enough money to not be dependent on working creates more time. There is no such thing as creating more time, it’s about being mindful on how we spend our time.

Everyone has the same amount of time in the day. We have 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes in a day. It’s how we choose our lifestyle, and our priorities, that allows us to have more time to spend on the things that are important to us, not to gain more time.

It’s how we choose our lifestyle, and our priorities, that allows us to have more time to spend on the things that are important to us, not to gain more time. Click To Tweet

Even as we trade time for money in traditional employment, we are still at the mercy of the clock and at our choices. If we want for less, then we need less money. This means more choices. If we are creative about our solutions on making money, then it takes less time. You’ve heard the old adage: Work Smarter, Not Harder. This is why I believe you cannot buy time with money. Time continues on, no matter how much money you have.

Years ago, people were raised with the expectation that they would start working early in their lives, and continue working until they are 65. It created citizens that are involved in the workplace, producing income and paying taxes, and being productive members of society. They would work 8 hours a day (more if you were a farmer, for example, but it would even out in the winter months), then go home for dinner and spend time with the family and friends. Today’s positions include the expectation of more than 8 hours a day, plus often weekends and evenings. We are so caught up in our lives and obsessed with money that we forget to spend time on ourselves and on those around us.

I am a firm believer that time will always be available if you make it a priority.

There are so many ways to help keep time in check.

Docket Your Time

 

By docketing your time, you will be more aware of the time you have, and how you spend it.

 

  • Use an app like Moment, which reports to you how much time you spend on different applications and time spent on your phone.

 

buy time
Click Here for a Time Docket Sheet

 

  • Create a docket for 15 or 30 minute intervals where you write down what you did during that time. You may find that you are much more cognizant of
    your time when you have to own up to it. Get a simple time docket here from my Etsy shop.

 

  • Freelancers and teams might use some of these apps as suggested by Zapier.com

 

 

Job Sharing

If you are able to reduce your work hours, a lot of employers are allowing job sharing. Essentially, you work one half of the week, and someone else works the other half. Sometimes you trade weeks on and off. Granted, you need to be financially sound in order to reduce your income by 50%, but you will also gain 50% more time in the interim.

Reduce Commuting Time

Maybe it’s time to move. If you love what you do, but it’s an hour or more away from home, you lose 2+ hours a day in travel time. That’s equal to 10+ hours a week, or 520+ hours a year… the equivalent of 21.6 days. That’s a lot of time you could save by living closer and having a shorter commute.

Reduce Expenses

Granted, this is the most obvious of suggestions. If you can reduce your cost of living, you can minimize how much you work. Maybe you could get by with a lower-paying job that allows you to take more vacation time. Maybe you don’t need to work 60 hours a week and can cut the overtime.

 

Being Creative

Think outside the box. Can you spend time with loved ones over your lunch, instead of working on the next task? Maybe you can rotate hosting potlucks once or twice a month and ensure you see your family more often. Perhaps you can work from home, and have time with those important four-legged friends instead of going into the office.

My blogger friend, Michael Dinich, shared an article questioning if a recession would happen if more people were to become financially independent. My opinion is yes!  We need people to work so that we have trades people, doctors, lawyers, etc. If everyone chose to retire early, we would have a large population of non-working individuals and a shortage of workers. Does that buy time? No!

We never know how much time we have on this earth, which means life is about more than money. It’s about spending what time we are given (you know, that 1,440 minutes a day) doing what we want to do, and what we need to do.

Am I saying that people should work their whole lives? No, that’s not the answer either. Our society runs on the citizens giving back time, and if you are fortunate to have enough money to not need to work, then we need you in other areas. Volunteer. Share your trades. Create opportunities for less fortunate. (Some will argue this is the point – having enough money to allow yourself to do these things.)

We have no idea how much time we have on earth. It could be 75 years or 99 years. It could be 15 years. We have no idea. My opinion is that we should continue being contributing members of our society, live smartly, and enjoy the time we have.

No amount of money will extend your time in a day.

So what time is it that we are buying?

Are we buying more days? No.

Are we buying more months? No.

We are rearranging our lives to make time with loved ones or time for travel or anything else more possible, not by buying time.

We are rearranging our lives to make time with loved ones or time for travel or anything else more possible, not by buying time. Click To Tweet

 

That does not have to cost money. That isn’t buying time. That’s called making memories.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.