When you think of gift-giving how does it make you feel?
Excited? Nervous? Stressed-out? Broke?
We all have different reactions when it comes to buying gifts for family, friends, or our significant other.
Some people really love the scheming, shopping, surprising, and the hunt for the perfect gift. Other people are totally stressed out by the thought. That doesn’t make them one Santa and one Scrooge it just means the financial worries tend to naturally rank higher for one than the other.
But there is a way to find joy for everyone in the gift-giving process this year if you avoid these three gift-giving mistakes:
Mistake #1: You give the kind of gift YOU want.
First, figure out whether the person you are giving a gift to is a simple or an extravagant person. Are they a “go big or go home” kind of person or a “practice practicality” individual?
Set your preferences aside. What are THEY like?
If you they are a simple person don’t give an extravagant gift. If they are an extravagant person don’t give a simple gift. I (Bethany) like more of the extravagant stuff, which makes it a little more expensive, but some people would prefer something simple. In fact, a simple person won’t enjoy an extravagant gift no matter how much you like “spoiling” them in that manner. If that doesn’t fit the person, the “spoiling” will just smell rotten.
Give the kind of gift THEY want.
Mistake #2: You totally blow the budget because “it’s a gift”!
The second mistake to avoid: destroying your budget because “it’s the holidays” or “it’s a gift”.
Don’t be a “budget destroyer” this holiday season. The logic that since “it’s a gift” so it is okay to blow the budget you both worked hard to put in place is a great way to destroy the special occasion and your finances.
We just went through an expensive year. We remodeled our house, and moved to a new office space, so we are determined to stick to the shopping budget that we set.
Communicate often. It is important that you keep in contact with one another. If one of you goes to the mall and the other person is not there you have got to keep the lines of communication open.
The spending might be fun in the moment, but when February arrives and the bills start rolling in the bad feelings that roll in could last until next Christmas.
A pile of debt is not a good gift. (And you can’t exchange it.)
Mistake #3: You wrap up “fun” when they’d enjoy “practical”.
Before the holiday music, the pretty displays, and the rush of the crowd sweeps you off of your feet, you have to stop and remind yourself of the person on your list. What type of gift would they appreciate the most?
Are they going to be more pleased by a practical gift or a fun gift?
For me (Scott), I am practical. I like practical gifts. Beth will ask me what I want and I will say a new pair of running shoes. She thinks, “How boring!” Beth is all about fun and variety. But she knows I’m not, so she sets aside her impulse to run the opposite direction from my gift suggestion. Even though she thinks my idea is boring, she is shopping for me (and my practicality), not for what she thinks is fun.
I need to do the same for her. I don’t set out to find Bethany any practical items. She needs a good surprise–a thoughtful, unexpected gift. So, for instance at Brookstone last year I got her a towel warmer. It seemed kind of random and “out there” for me, but she uses it every single day. And loves it. That surprise element is important to her and it’s a huge part of who she is!
You (and your spouse) will be so much happier this year if keep in mind who you are giving to and what pleases them. You don’t have to break the bank or the budget, just show them you are catering to what they want.
Keep in mind the reason you’re giving a gift. They are special to you. Your life would be different without them. Honor who they are and honor your hard-earned finances when you avoid these gift-giving mistakes.
Scott & Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple