#FinancialFridays: Last Minute Gift Ideas

Wow, Christmas is upon us… and I am not done my shopping yet. But the budget for gifts is close to finished. With money and time being tight, I am thinking of giving gift cards.

Sometimes I am harsh with myself. I think I should find the perfect gift to show my love and care for the important people in my life… and I drive myself to exhaustion. What if, instead of doing that, I gave myself permission to just pick generic gift cards for people this year? Money is tight for everyone I know, so maybe a gift card to the grocery store they usually go to, or the coffee shop they like is enough. And will be appreciated. I could use a $5 or $10 gift card to go towards my grocery bill right now and so could my loved ones.

And, if you have people in your life who are asking what they should get you, let them know a gift card to your usual grocery store would be nice. It would give them a meaningful idea for your present and not end up being regifted because it isn’t somewhere you usually shop.

When we receive gifts, it is an opportunity. We now have a chance to use that gift to benefit ourselves and others. If you receive money or gift cards, think about how these gifts can support your budget and your longer term goals. Here are some ideas about how to use and invest those gifts.

  • Gift cards – Review your budget and see where you can best use the gift card you received. If the gift card is for a grocery store, think about when would be most beneficial to use it. If the gift card can replace some money that you usually use to buy something else, where best can you put that newly available money? Gift cards hold their value so you don’t need to use the entire amount right away; You can plan to use it over a longer period of time which can help your monthly budget.
  • Money – Receiving money outside of your normal monthly budget is very exciting. Think about how you can best benefit from this money. Is it paying a debt so you save on the interest you would have to pay otherwise? Is it pre-paying your rent or utilities so you have some peace of mind? Having extra money all of a sudden usually encourages us to buy something new we want instead of covering a need. This is a different year and how we use the gifts we receive can also be different. Consider buying something second-hand instead, which will let the money you receive go further.
  • Money children receive – Children can learn about budgeting at an early age, which helps them better manage money as they grow up. If the children in your life receive money or a gift card, consider talking to them about the different options for using it. Speak to them about starting or adding to their very own savings account to save for a future goal. It can be a small goal like a new scooter or clothing, or a larger goal. This is an opportunity for them too!

Taking time to think about the gifts you receive allows you to appreciate the giver of the gift and how this gift can contribute to your well-being. This is for all gifts, not just gift cards and money. You can budget your chocolate and savour it over time. Let’s let the good stuff last as long as possible!