Save money with a thought that really counts

Andy Webb

It’s easy to waste money at this time of year—but thinking outside the box could save you some dosh.

People often say a big part of the festive season is gift-giving, rather than receiving. Then there’s that old adage that it’s the thought that counts. Both noble sentiments.

But how often have you forced a grin and said, “It’s just what I wanted,” knowing that really it’s going to sit at the back of the cupboard—or, even worse, end up in the bin? And there’s a good chance some of the gifts you’ve given have met the same fate. But all of these presents have cost hard-earned cash.

So how do you avoid wasting your money? Here’s a handful of simple ideas that’ll ensure the thought really does count this Christmas.

 

Get them what they actually want

Ask what someone wants and you won’t be wasting your time and money trying to find the perfect gift. Likewise, tell people what’s on your Christmas list.

This isn’t a perfect solution. There’s a danger here that a present request will cost more than you can afford, so ideally also let them know your rough budget. You can of course shop around to get the best deal, which might leave you some additional money to spend on small extras.

Alternatively, you can just give people money. I’m sure many of you will steer clear of this option as it seems too impersonal. But think of it this way: if you give cash it will be spent on something that’s either wanted or needed. It’s certainly the most money-savvy way to gift.

Admittedly, many grandparents (in particular) find this approach unappealing, as there’s a chance that money given will be simply frittered away. If that’s a fear, you can suggest the money is spent in a specific way—perhaps on a new winter coat, or a special slap-up meal.

For younger relatives, you can instead put cash into a savings account for them.

 

 

Pay attention to hints

You might think giving money takes away some of the magic of giftgiving. If you really want to make it a surprise, then do your research. Listen to what they say when you’re out shopping together and look around their house when you visit. You’ll hopefully pick up some ideas.

To be extra sure, include a gift receipt with your Christmas gift. If it’s is not right, the recipient can exchange it for something that is.

 

Give where it counts

I really like this idea. Rather than buy a gift, you give to charity. That could be a donation to a cause, or it could even be handing over a bundle of grocery items to a food bank.

This way, the money you spend will make a real difference—and there’s no risk that your gift will end up in the bin. You could take a photo of your donation, or produce a certificate so there’s something to actually hand over.

If you’re wondering how to handle this, I’d recommend telling people that’s your plan. Maybe even asking “Do you mind?” If they object, you always have the option of reverting to the previous ideas.