Summer is here. There is plenty to love about this season–the warmer weather, kids being out of school and free of homework and other responsibilities, more relaxed days, and plenty of time for play–but there are also some drawbacks. Summer is also wedding and baby season, and if you aren’t careful, you could spend a bundle on gifts, especially if you’re in your 20s and 30s and have a rash of friends getting married or having babies.
If your budget is tight, there are several ways you can give a thoughtful gift without spending a bundle. Consider these strategies:
1. Give a personalized gift.
When my officemate and good friend had her first child, I was just two years out of grad school. My husband and I weren’t making much money, and we had student loan debt to pay off. There was no extra money.
My friend had a castle/princess theme for the baby’s nursery. I found a pattern for a wizard and cross-stitched and framed the picture. Making the project took a lot of my time, but I was able to buy a discount frame and spend less than $10 on the gift since I already had many of the supplies at home. Best of all, my friend loved the gift.
2. Chip in with others.
Some registries have gifts that start at $40 or more. If this is over your budget, see if you and a few other friends can buy a gift together. If 5 friends buy a $100 gift, you’re only spending $20 a piece.
3. Buy in advance.
This strategy is a bit trickier, but it can save you money. A friend I know buys baby clothes on clearance at the end of the season. She buys clothes that are gender neutral, and then when a friend has a baby shower, she just chooses an outfit that is appropriate to the season when the baby will be born.
Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are fabulous household sales. You could buy a few items at rock bottom prices and use those as wedding presents. The downside here is that these items aren’t likely ones that are on the couple’s gift registry.
4. Give gift cards or cash.
No one is going to complain about receiving cash. If you only have $20 to spend, it might be better to give cash rather than a gift that couple didn’t request on their registry.
Likewise, you can use sites like Gift Card Granny to buy gift cards at less than face value. I’m guessing an expectant mother wouldn’t complain about getting a Gymboree gift card.
If your credit card offers gift cards for your rewards points, you could always cash out one of those, and your gift wouldn’t cost anything!
If you have several friends getting married or having babies at the same time, you’re finances can really feel the hit. However, if you use one or more of these strategies, you should be able to buy a thoughtful gift for your friends without spending more than you have.
What are your suggestions for saving money when buying gifts?