Friday, 13 July 2012

How much should I spend on gifts?

My evaluation of my monthly expenditure and budgeting, planning and investing has brought up a question I dont really have an answer to: how much should I spend on gifts?  I realise that the amount one spends on gifts is dependent on the relationships, the person and the expectaitons however this just raises more questions including
  • How close is the person to you?
  • Do I need to spend a lot on a wedding gift?
  • If they know that I'm doing well does that create the expectation of gifts that are worth more?
I honestly think there is no right and wrong answer to this.  There are social norms that must be observed if you are not to be seen as (or more importantly feel like) a miser or spendthrift.  Here are a few tips that I use to conform to the 'social standards' of gift giving.  If you have any more rules and tips please let me know:
  1. Cash will always be the most expensive gift:  This is for the simple reason that people know exactly what they are getting and can thus compare how much they spent for you, how much you gave in previous periods on assess this also against how much they think they should be getting (the big unknown)

  2. One gift worth a certain amount is better than a series of gifts which sum to the same amount:  Don't give a group of small gifts not worth a lot.  People know generally what things are worth and for some reason (unbeknownst to me) value one expensive thing more than a large group of less expensive items.

  3. Giving gifts in groups is goodThis is related to the above point of one really expensive gift being appreciated a lot more than a series of small gifts.  You also end up spending a fair bit less. The downside is that you are 'sharing the giving' so it is less personal and you also have to have awkward conversations about how much each prson is to contribute

  4. If you get a great deal on a gift (i.e. you get it for really cheap but it is normally quite expensive) then you've hit the jackpot - dont ruin it by telling everyone you got a great deal on it - unfortunately perception is everything in gift giving.  Also if you can get these sort of deals then you don't need to spend as much as you usually would have.

  5. There is no escaping wedding gifts:  Several of my close friends have had weddings recently and I've unfortunately come to the conclusion that there is no way to avoid spending a lot of money on these things.  The combination of gift registries and expectations is deadly!

  6. If you are crafty and the person you are giving a gift to appreciates your craft / skill then you could save some serious money.  I'm terrible at these kind of gifts though have really enjoyed recieving them in the past. 

  7. Never give a gift you have recieved in the past - it NEVER ends well.  My mother would disagree with me on this one but I've seen it backfire too many times and the awkwardness is unbelievable

  8. If the party is at a bar / nightclub do the right thing and make the gift a few drinks:  I've recieved this gifts on many an occasion and have loved them every single time.  Let's face it you're going to spend the money at the bar anyway so you may as well combine it with the gift.
If you have any more suggestions on how to solve the problem of gift giving and the often very high expenses it entails then post below and help the whole process become a whole lot less awkward.

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