The Price of a Gift
March 28, 2011 14 Comments
I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m a terrible gift giver. Well, not terrible at picking out gifts, but terrible in that there are very few people I actually give gifts to.
I’m not the type of person who buys gifts for semi-close acquaintances on their birthday. In fact, rarely do I even buy my closest friends anything more than a meal for their birthday. In my group of friends that has just been the status quo. We just don’t do gifts.
However, when it comes to a significant other or with family, I’m known to go all out. My ex and I (T.O. for those of you who also read my relationship blog) didn’t believe in just a little gift, we believed in purchasing experiences for each other. Some representative gifts include me purchasing him flying lessons, me purchasing him scuba gear and diving classes, me purchasing him a weekend get-a-way to wine country plus staying at a bed and breakfast for the weekend. (He reciprocated with just as elaborate and expensive experiences in return, in case you were concerned this might be one-sided.)
All of these purchases, of course, brought to you by the debt building power of Visa.
This weekend was Mr Hive’s birthday. And that purchasing desire I feel when I want to buy something nice for someone I care about came out of me once again. I ended up purchasing him two gifts that we can enjoy together (one a board game we can play together and another a role playing game book for an RPG that we play). Total damage of the gifts? $95. Then my nice, quiet, romantic dinner with the two of us got turned into a dinner for 6. So my previous hope of getting out of dinner around $40 turned into over $80 once appetizers got thrown in for the party and my sister came so I had to buy her meal as well. I didn’t mind, the food was excellent and the company enjoyable. I just didn’t really imagine that I would be spending $175 on my boyfriend’s birthday.
I really should have set myself a lower limit on the gift. I know he would have been happier with one or the other of the two gifts and wouldn’t have cared what I spent. The dinner I probably should have been a little more forceful about the appetizers, though when the dishes are $15 a pop it is hard to make it out with tip for a reasonable price – good thing this isn’t something we’ll be doing regularly.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that I should probably start saving monthly for a gift fund. I’ve been lucky the past few years that I’ve only have to buy birthday gifts for my sister and my dad. They both have birthdays around Christmas so usually I just use my Christmas funds to buy them birthday presents.
This year I also bought my good friend who recently had a baby a $75 stroller for her shower. I have another friend who is getting married in June that I plan on buying a gift for (he also is one of only two friends IRL that reads this blog). And these aren’t just run of the mill friends. These are good friends. Friends I would go into debt for. You know, the kind of friend where if they needed me I would be on a plane tomorrow and charge it to my credit card and not think twice about it kind of friends. There are some people I would simply go to Target and buy something around $20 from their registry – these aren’t those friends. These are $75-100 friends.
Wow – did I really just rank my friends by how much I would spend on a gift for them? Yes I did…
Anyway, the moral of the story is that I used to believe that because of how my life was set up that I didn’t need a gift fund. This year is proving me wrong. And typically these expenses have (at least for the stroller and the excess of Mr Hive’s gift) come out of my Miscellaneous fund. Here are the two options that I see for how to save towards a gift fund on my already strapped budget:
- Change my Christmas fund to a Gift fund. Increase monthly contribution by $10-20. While Christmas does mainly pay for gifts, it also pays for other things like Christmas dinner and decorations. Saving as a gift/Christmas fund would mean that in a year where I have lots of gifts outside of Christmas my Christmas pot would be lower, but in years where I have few gifts it would be higher. Not sure it makes a lot of difference in the end. I’ll have to spend what I have to spend come December.
- Start a separate fund for Gifts. Start monthly contribution of $10-20. I like this idea because it is dedicated to gifts. But even at $20 per month I’m only saving $240, which I would have ALREADY spent this year on the baby shower + Mr Hive’s birthday.
- Ignore this as an aberrant year and get on with my life. I could always just keep things status quo and not change my savings towards gifts. But as my GOOD friends are getting to the point in their lives where they are getting married, having babies, and more are likely to come in the next few years – this seems inadvisable.
- Set up a savings account for gifts with a target money amount. This would essentially work like my E-fund does. Maybe I save to it monthly until I get $150 in it. Then I stop saving until I have to use it. Then once I use it I save up again. That way I’m only putting money in it when I use it – not when I don’t. This would mean in lean gift giving years it make never be touched, but in high gift giving years it is constantly in use. This would account for feast or famine years, but would require me to redo the budget every time I have to buy a gift to restock the gift fund. That itself is kind of annoying.
So this is where I need you, dear readers. What do you do about gifts? Do you have a gift fund or do they normally come out of your regular spending money? How do you budget for a gift fund when year to year they can be so variable? Or do you simply save for each once you know that it is going to happen (I mean, I have at least 6 month notices on most marriages and babies)? I’d like to know how others handle gifts before I make a decision on what to do myself. Please, speak up. =D