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Appreciated Gifts and Birthday Bloopers: 3 Tips and 1 Priceless Hack
Updated: December 03, 2020 |
Taylor Kovar, CFP

How to Select a Gift Your Spouse Will Truly Enjoy

Stop giving your spouse the wrong gifts! Listen, if you are NOT hitting it out of the ballpark when it comes to gift-giving with your spouse, what are you waiting for? Spoiler: you will exchange many, MANY gifts over the course of your marriage, so learning how to tell bad gifts from appreciated ones is something you want to do sooner than later. Then both of you can reap the benefits of awesome gifts for the rest of your time on this earth together…and it’s not actually that hard.

Let’s say you will be married for 50 years. If you give your spouse a present for the bare minimum of Christmas, Valentine’s, their birthday, and your anniversary, that’s 200 gifts! That’s a ton of opportunities to either get it right or miss the mark with the worst gifts your spouse can imagine (but thank you for anyway just to be polite).

Different Gift-Giving Approaches

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 significant others.
Some people really love 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 that financial worries tend to naturally rank higher for one than the other.

Even so, anybody can learn how to choose a gift to make the largest possible percentage of them meaningful, appreciated gifts and not just squeak by last-minute gifts. We’ll expand on how your personality and outlook on money can lead you to choose bad gifts. For now, just keep in mind that these kinds of mistakes aren’t a reflection of your love for the other person, but simply a tendency you can identify and compensate for. Here are the three most common mistakes to avoid when searching for gifts for a wife, husband, or anyone who matters to you.

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 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? What are their interests? What makes them more comfortable, content, or inspired?

For one thing, if they are a person with simple tastes, don’t give an extravagant gift. If they appreciate the finer things in life, don’t give a simple gift. When buying gifts for my wife, I now understand that Megan likes 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 it being a gift makes it 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 started a couple of projects 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 at 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 one of the worst gifts imaginable. (And you can’t exchange it.)

Mistake #3: You Wrap Up “Fun” When They’d Enjoy “Practical” More

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 with a practical gift or a fun gift?

Let’s use my own marriage as an example again, since it’s a subject I’m familiar with. For me (Taylor), I am practical. The gifts I appreciate most serve a down-to-earth purpose. Megan will ask me what I want and I will say a new pair of running shoes. She thinks, “How boring!” Megan 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 when searching for gifts for my wife. I don’t set out to find Megan 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! Something boring and practical, including workout equipment, would simply be bad gifts for her no matter what thoughts and intentions lay behind them.

The Most Important Hack When Selecting a Gift

If you think about it, these three tips pretty much boil down to: stop making the mistake of buying gifts based on who you are and what feels right to you.

You (and your spouse) will be so much happier this year if you 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 as persons, and don’t forget about preserving your hard-earned finances while you avoid these gift-giving mistakes.

Let us explain how this happens and good, loving intentions end up making you choose the worst gifts for your spouse. A decade was spent researching and working with a statistical scientist to uncover the 5 Money Personalities – 5 ways to approach money. And everyone is born with a Primary and a Secondary approach. Those Money Personalities drive your decisions and emotions related to money.

Gift-giving involves money. So here’s the first place couples get off track. They select gifts based on how they like to spend (or not spend) money. If your spouse isn’t wired the same as you, the gift sails right past the bull’s-eye and may even miss all the rings of the target. Since your Money Personalities are deeply ingrained in who you are, you may not even realize how they can lead you astray instead of pushing you towards more appreciated gifts.

The key is to take into account their Money Personalities when you shop for them.

You won’t believe how much this changes what you get them and even how you get it for them. (Identify both Primary and Secondary Money Personalities by taking our FREE online scientific & confidential 5 Money Personality Assessment.)

Once you know the key, use this handy dandy guide to pick the perfect gift for a:


When you buy a gift for the (Primary) Saver in your life, by all means, get a good deal. Buy nothing at full price. Coupons and all other forms of bargain hunting are encouraged.

If that’s not the way you generally shop, that’s okay. That’s not what matters right now. This gift is for them and how much you spent on it matters to a Saver. Too much money spent on a gift makes it more difficult for a Saver to enjoy it.

And then when you give the gift to your Saver, brag on how much you saved. We are not joking! They LOVE to hear how much you saved. Going over the top and leaving a dent in your budget may cause them to worry even if they love the gift itself.

If they know the new ski boots were last year’s model so they were 40% off, plus you used a store coupon on top of that, every time they hit the slopes those boots will feel even cozier because they know you didn’t spend a fortune on them.


Spenders love lavish gifts. Pull out the stops and get them something awesome! If you are naturally a Saver or a Security Seeker this may be very hard for you. But, again, this gift is to honor them not soothe your preferences.

If you’re really stumped ask a friend whom you think may be a Spender to make some suggestions. Honor their natural approach to money and loosen the purse strings for their gift this year.


If you are shopping for a Risk Taker, put on your thinking cap. Start thinking of something different. A gift that is “out there” that’s unexpected and they wouldn’t think of themselves. Google gift ideas and see just how much you can please their Risk Taker side.

Security Seeker

For the Security Seeker in your life, buy a practical gift. Find something that serves a purpose. Something useful, practical, and well made so it is reliable and will last a long time. The worst gifts for these kinds of people are gimmicky and can’t be used every day.


Most people find this type of Money Personality a bit perplexing. But Flyers are those people in your life that just don’t really care about money. They value relationships, memories, and time spent together above any item. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want gifts. They value gifts that foster the relationship.

If you buy your Flyer a gift certificate, that is awesome. But plan on going together to spend it. It’s all about the relationship for them.

Bonus Tip:

Without going too far down the road of explaining what our Money Personality Insights Report says, each person does have two Money Personalities so it’s great to consider the combination of both their Primary and Secondary when you buy their gift.

For example, A Flyer/ Saver would love a Groupon for an activity. You got a deal on something that you could do together to foster the relationship.

Or say a Saver / Risk-taker is on your list; you don’t need a lavish gift but something exciting. A gift that involves adventure, but doesn’t break the bank. Like telling them, “Hey, I’m driving and we’re going hiking later this month.” It’s exciting to be together, but savings are exciting for them too.

Without Fail …

Always remember to discuss your holiday spending plans with your spouse. Agree with your plan. If you don’t agree at first, keep communicating until you do. Don’t hide spending from your spouse even if it is “just for the kids”. That’s lying and wrong. There’s no other way to say it.

Talk about the amount to spend on your spouse’s gifts. Agree with that. You don’t have to discuss the exact gifts. Let them be a wonderful, meaningful surprise under the tree, not the surprise credit card bills in a month.

Hopefully, with these guidelines, you can stop giving your spouse the wrong kind of gifts, which should make your shopping a little easier too. Enjoy each other and celebrate your differences.

Make it happen!

Taylor and Megan Kovar

The Money Couple

Taylor & Megan Kovar posing at the Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches Texas


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