Giving is intended to be open handed and bring joy to both the giver and receiver. However, it can also be really stressful! There is so much pressure to get things right and not feel like a bozo for buying a bad gift. Not to mention, the number of occasions that require a gift seem endless. Whether it is baby or bridal showers, birthdays for family and friends, and in your own immediate family, gift giving is a constant. If you’re like me, your stress level is already rising and I haven’t even brought up the money part. Let’s take a look at how to put the joy back into giving, and not break the budget in the process!
Gifts for All Occasions
As a kid, there were a few times a year that I could expect to receive a gift; Christmas, my birthday, and Easter. However, as an adult, it seems like there are a bajillion more chances to give gifts. In my early and mid-twenties, all of my friends got married and I was going to weddings a handful of times a year, topping out at 11 in one crazy year. Then once I got married, my wife started getting invited to a bunch of baby and wedding showers, adding even more gifts to buy. Outside of wedding gifts, bridal and baby showers, there are loads of birthdays that pop up throughout the year. I have young nieces and nephews. They are cute, adorable, hilarious, and I love them like crazy! But when their birthdays come around, I feel an expectation to buy a gift for them to open at their party. That makes an extra six presents a year. Then if you buy gifts for your parents, siblings, or your close friends…yikes! Before you know it, you have spent hundreds of dollars on gifts without batting an eye, not to mention countless hours planning out the perfect gift for each occasion. We felt so much pressure to buy gifts, but we didn’t want to break our budget in the process. We made a purposeful choices to find a balance and bring joy back to the giving process.
Choose Your Non-negotiables
With so many occasions for gifts, I don’t believe it is reasonable to give a gift for every single event that pops up on your calendar. If gift giving is your way of expressing love, then by all means, give gifts for all occasions. However, for most people, it really can break your budget and cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Therefore, I think it’s important to whittle down your list of gifts to figure out the events that are truly non-negotiable. This will be different for every family depending on your priorities. Now to be clear, choosing to not give a gift doesn’t mean you love someone less than people you do buy gifts for. It just means you made a decision to draw the line, taking control of your finances instead of allowing them to be controlled by external circumstances. Personally, until our student loans are paid off, my wife and I only buy Christmas presents, and even then we limit it to parents and goofy stuff for white elephant (because who doesn’t love white elephant). Once we are debt free, I will be excited to open up the floodgates of giving again!
Making Space in the Budget
I always advocate to account for every dollar you spend each month in a specific place in your budget, so it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I follow the same philosophy for gift giving. However you choose to prioritize your gifting, outrageously generous or limited, it is so important to plan ahead and add it to your budget. That includes planning what the gift is for and how much you want or can afford to spend. Just knowing what purchases are coming up each month and how much will be diverted from other goals is a great way to avoid stress and surprise expenses. Make a plan and stick to it!
Becoming Practically Generous
In the last year and a half my wife and I added a “practical giving” section to our budget. We commit ourselves to tithe 10% of our income, but felt like we could extend our giving a smidge. Each month we pray about who we should give this money to. It has been really fun blessing people with gifts or even a check in the mail. I truly believe that Jesus provides us with money to bless us and so we can give generously and bless others. It has really helped us feel a lot of joy! If you are up for a fun challenge, start giving practically to friends, family, and even strangers!
Wrapping it Up
Buying gifts can be overwhelming and can make a huge dent in your budget and financial goals. Before you commit to buying a gift for every occasion, sit down with your budget and partner if you have one, and create a plan. Prioritize your non-negotiables, decide how much to spend and build it into your budget, and figure out how you can meet people’s practical needs through giving.
Let Me Know in the Comments
Does gift giving stress you out? How do you plan and prioritize your giving?
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