Gift Giving: 14 Strategies For Making Your Dollars Go Further

Financial Advice


By: FCU Team

You’ve been disciplined all year about your spending so that you can build up your savings. You don’t want to see holiday gift giving take too big a bite out of your savings. That said, you do want to give nice gifts to your loved ones.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your spending while maximizing the joy you bring to others!

The best ways to buy gifts for everyone so that you don't break the bank.

Before you make your first trip to the store or get online to buy holiday gifts, consider these proven strategies for managing your spending:

  1. Talk to your recipients. Often, we determine the size of a gift purchase based on what we believe the recipient will be buying for. This can lead to an increase in gift giving from year to year. In many cases, all it takes to rein in this expensive escalation is having a friendly conversation about what gifts they would like. It can remove any tension and stress to communicate what gifts may be thoughtful and cost efficient.
  2. Create a budget and stick to it. Choosing an amount to spend on each person on your list and then committing to staying at or under that figure can keep you from going overboard. Making on-the-fly purchase decisions and trying to reconcile the ledger later is never a good idea.
  3. Know what you’ll buy before you buy it. Shopping without a list makes it more likely that you’ll see the “perfect” gift and decide you have to buy it, even though it’s a little (or a lot) over the budget.
  4. Use coupons and discount codes. Whether you’re making purchases at stores or online, there are probably ways you can save money when you’re ready to check out. Look for coupons in the mail or in publications, or do some online research for discounts. If you’re willing to share your name and email address, you might consider signing up with your favorite companies, as they often reserve the best deals for people on their list.
  5. Use a “rewards” credit card. Every little bit helps, and if your credit card returns even a small percentage of your purchases to you, you should take advantage of it. 
  6. Buy some gifts in bulk. With certain stores and items, the more you buy, the less you pay per item. Find something you think is appropriate for multiple people on your list and buy it in bulk. If appropriate, you can always personalize the item a bit so each recipient gets a unique gift.
  7. Create your own presents. Nothing says “I care about you” more than taking some time to craft a handmade gift out of inexpensive items. Long after store-bought gifts have been discarded, your homemade item may be a treasured keepsake.
  8. Give an experience. Here again, the time, effort, and thought put into a gift tend to mean more to the recipient than the monetary. Plan an inexpensive adventure for your recipient. For example, you could take them out for coffee, then to an affordable experience like a museum or escape room, then wrap up with a trip to the ice cream shop. The most valuable thing you can give someone is your time.
  9. Make a memory tangible. Digital pics are great, but there’s something about having a photograph in physical form that brings the scenario more vividly to life. Print a photo of one of the recipient’s favorite events and put it into an inexpensive frame. You might also include an assortment of items with sentimental value, like a ticket stub from that once-in- a-lifetime concert or sporting event.
  10. Give the gift of service. Most people have one or more tasks that they would love to have performed for them. Whether that’s work around the house or a 30-minute neck and shoulder massage at the end of a long day, you can offer to provide that service. And if you allow them to use this service multiple times, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
  11. Save on wrapping paper. We tend to purchase wrapping paper, ribbon, bows and other supplies without giving any thought to the price. However, if you’re giving out numerous gifts, the cost can add up. Wrapping presents in simple brown packaging paper and adding a few hand-drawn or stamped enhancements, or taping a small pine sprig to them, not only saves you money, it allows you to show your creative side.
  12. Draw names. If you give gifts to each member of a group, like your circle of friends, consider suggesting that you all draw names and each person buys for one That way everyone has the fun of opening a gift and only has to buy one present.
  13. Make a donation on the recipient’s behalf. For many people, knowing that their “gift” is benefiting a charitable cause can be the best present of all. A small donation made in their name with a card explaining how the money will benefit others can be a great gift. Just like with tip number one, communicate with the recipient to make sure that this is something they want and goes to an organization or cause they support.
  14. Wait until after the holidays. Merchants tend to mark down their inventory significantly after the first of the year. See if your recipients are interested in doing a post-holiday gift exchange. Another advantage of this approach is that it gives everyone something to look forward to so that the end of the holiday season isn’t such a letdown.

An Additional Benefit of Smart Holiday Spending:

Reducing the amount you spend on holiday gifts can help you grow your savings. Plus, another benefit is that it can decrease your stress level. For many people, not only is there stress about what gifts to buy and how much to spend, there is added pressure when their next credit card statement arrives and they have to face a surprisingly large balance.

Developing and following a gift-giving plan can be beneficial in both areas. You’ve come up with a budget, so you don’t have to debate costs each time you make a purchase. And, when you get your statement, you know exactly what to expect.

So, this holiday season, celebrate both your growing savings account and stress-free gift giving! After all, they say gift giving is the greatest reward. If you plan on using your FCU Visa® Rewards Card this holiday season, then the rewards aren’t limited to just giving. Learn more how you can take advantage of our spending benefits.