Like most blokes, I have something of a phobia when it comes to shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying stuff, I just hate going to the shops!
Oftentimes that same sentiment around Christmas leads people to the quick and convenient solution – buying a gift card – but this is the gift you should avoid giving this Christmas! It might be nice for the convenience, but it’s bad on the budget. Let’s explore what we can do instead, to ensure your budget stays on track this Christmas.
The Time Crunch
It’s okay if I know exactly what I am going to get and can go straight in and straight back out but the idea of going from shop to shop to find that ideal present or item of clothing fills me with a sense of dread.
And why is it that as a marathon runner I can run for hours without a problem, yet after just an hour of shopping my feet get painfully sore?
I am ashamed to admit that there have been times in my life when faced with the Christmas shopping, completely unprepared and running out of time that I have taken the have taken the easy option – the gift card!
I think the real low point was buying my beautiful wife a $100 Westfield Gift card at 4pm on Christmas Eve – how’s that for thoughtful and I only had one present to buy! I justified the purchase by telling myself that at least she would be able to buy something she really wanted.
Now I personally like getting gift cards, especially to things like Amazon, Bunnings, iTunes and fishing stores. Gift cards allow you to get what you really need or want. But there is one really big problem with gifts cards, especially when you are living to a budget – the amount you spent is open for everyone to see.
The Value of a Gift
With a bit of planning and clever shopping, it is not hard to buy meaningful presents on a budget. With planning, the value of a present to the receiver isn’t measured by the amount spent, instead, it’s measured by the thoughtfulness and appropriateness of the present.
However, there can be no hiding what you have spent on planning and thoughtfulness when you buy a gift card.
It’s like going to a wedding where you have been asked to give money instead of presents. There is a self-inflicted pressure to give more as cash than you would have chosen to spend on a present because all of the attributes of what makes a good present are stripped away and all that is left to show your love and good intentions are the dollar value.
And when you think about it from the receiver’s perspective, all they really have to appreciate is the dollar figure on the card.
There is no doubt that gift cards are easy and convenient. They will save you from the trauma of trolling the shops for that ideal gift but in the end, that convenience will cost you.
How to Save This Christmas
Instead of taking the easy option this Christmas, take some time to plan your shopping. Write yourself a Christmas gifts list. Start by identifying who you want or need to buy a present for, give yourself a dollar figure budget for each person and then write down what you will buy for each person before you get to the shops. If you can’t think of what to buy don’t be afraid to ask them. At least then, you will get them something they really want.