The transition into adulthood brings with it constant challenges. From figuring out tax returns to booking your own appointment at the dentist, life sure loves reminding you of how good we had it as kids.
Now, as much as the term ‘adulting’ makes our skin crawl as much as the next self-respecting human, there is a little truth to it. Being on the wrong side of 18, one thing becomes very, very apparent: you need to pay attention to money.
Money seems to increasingly shuffle its way to the front of your mind as you get older. Financial worries are going to be an important factor in every decision you make from now on. Not even the sacred art of gift-giving is free from money worries. As sad as it is, there does come a day when mum stops buying presents and saying they’re from you.
Now, being an adult isn’t all bad. As you get older, you start enjoying things you never thought you would. Having wine actually starting to taste nice and starting to enjoying trips to Ikea is like having an entirely new world open up.
You know you’ve truly crossed the threshold into adulthood when, on Christmas morning, the things you’re looking forward to the most are Christmas lunch, and people opening the gifts you bought them. We all know that cliché we heard as a child but never believed, “giving is the best gift of all”. Just as you stop waking up at 5 am on Christmas morning, the older you get, you more you realise there actually is no better feeling than finding the perfect gift for someone you love.
In this modern milieu of consumerism, however, we can often feel that a gift’s worth hinges on its dollar value. If our finances aren’t where we’d like them to be when it comes time to buy a gift, it can leave us feeling inadequate. Not to mention, this can also lead us to spend money on a gift we really cannot afford to spend.
It can be really difficult to balance what we’d like to spend on a gift, with what we think we should spend, and what our budget will let us spend. Well, we are here today to give you a guide to determining the perfect amount to spend on a gift, as well as some practical budgeting tips.
How Close Are You To Them?
One of the biggest keys to gauging how much to spend on someone is to understand the significance of your relationship with them. In other words, ‘how close am I to this person?’
It may even be a good idea to write a list of people you need to buy a gift for, in order of significance. This will generally look like your partner at the top, followed by your family members who are then followed by close friends.
While this may seem incredibly obvious, having this guide can be just as important for the people at the bottom of the list. Misreading a situation and overspending on a gift can be just as awkward as underspending. For example, we wouldn’t recommend buying jewellery for someone in the office secret Santa (even if you are Alan Rickman in ‘Love, Actually’). So, before you decide on a gift, consider your relationship with that person.
To help give you a general idea, we’ve come up with a very rough guide:
Acquaintances, coworkers and casual friends: $10 – $20
Close friends, siblings or other family members: $30 – $75
Significant other: $75
Keep in mind, however, that this is a very general guide, to give you an idea on the dollar differences between these the relationships. These amounts can easily vary depending on how much your comfortable spending or something as simple as your income.
How Long Have You Known Them?
Another important factor in understanding your relationship with someone is taking into account how long you’ve known them.
For example, It is probably appropriate to spend more on your best friend from childhood than your best friend in the office. We also, however, believe that the value of the gift can often be inversely proportional to how long you have known them.
This can be especially true in terms of your significant other. When selecting a gift for your better half, there is much more of an emphasis on the sentiment of the gift. This means that a small, relatively inexpensive gift that says “I know you better than you know yourself”, may mean a lot more than something with a big price tag.
Additionally, as your life progresses with this person, putting money away for a house deposit is probably tenfold more important than a Christmas gift.
What Is The Occasion?
If gift giving was a sport, Christmas and birthdays would be the grand finals. These two events each year are going to be your main events when it comes to budgeting for and choosing the right gift.
Did you know that Australians spend collectively $11 billion on Christmas alone? Breaking it down, the average person will spend around $593 on Christmas gifts for other people, and one in five people will spend more than $1000.
Christmas is obviously the biggest hit on the wallet. Buying presents for thirteen people all at once is never going to be cheap. So, if you are planning on buying a gift for someone that is a little more on the expensive side, it is probably best to wait until their birthday.
Lastly, we definitely stress gauging the significance of the event. By this, we mean keeping in mind that a 21st is a bigger deal than a 19th, and your 10-year anniversary is a bigger milestone than a 4-year anniversary.
What Is Your Budget?
Life is more than ready to throw unexpected expenses your way. You start to learn that pretty quickly when your car breaks down again, or you’ve smashed another phone screen on a night out. So, where you are able to plan for an expense, you definitely should.
You should budget for buying gifts just as you would budget for any other expense. As much as we’d all like to spend big on someone we care about, it is a reality that this could really put a strain on our finances and negatively affect other aspects of our lives.
If you have a particular event coming up, be it Christmas, an anniversary or birthday, start saving well in advance. The more time you give yourself to save for something, the less you have to put away each week. Putting aside as little as $10 each week for long enough can leave you with a very nice little budget to work with.
If you haven’t been able to budget as much as you would like, take a leaf out of the gambling handbook and ‘only play with what you’re prepared to lose’. We feel this is a good way of looking at spending money on gifts. As much as your significant other will love an extravagant gift, chances are they aren’t going to love the months of debt you find yourself in later.
Make A List
Having Christmas looming around the corner doesn’t have to send a shiver down your spine. By first figuring out your budget, and then how many people you need to buy for, you can take the stress out of the whole process.
As we said before, the first step is to figure out how much you’re willing to spend in total this Christmas. There is no magic formula or percentage that tells you the right amount. You will just need to weigh up what you’re comfortable spending, and also to keep in mind that the world keeps turning after December 25th, and you will still need to pay rent and buy food.
We also recommend shopping for the people at the top of your list first. You would much rather find yourself short of cash when buying a small present for Suzanne in the office than your partner.
Consider Homemade Gifts
Massive key alert: You don’t actually need to spend money to make someone feel special.
Homemade gifts can be the perfect presents for anyone, regardless of how close you are to them. What’s more, you do not need to be an amazing artist to make something worth giving. We recommend putting a little thought into what the recipient really enjoys, and playing to your strengths.
- Make them their favourite cake or treat
- Create a vouchers booklet ( 1 x clean the entire house / 1 x day spent however you want etc)
- Regift your vintage jacket or jumper
- Collect old photos and frame them together to make a memory piece
The list goes on – the possibilities really are endless. If you’re not sure what you can do, just search the internet. There are a million great homemade gift ideas online. Finally, we’d like to say that in our opinion, homemade gifts often feel more special than something bought in the store.
Don’t Impulse Buy
We’ve all been there. It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re standing in Myer surrounded by middle-aged dads, all looking equally bemused. Being in these situations often leads to making an impulse purchase. These purchases are quite often very expensive or are obvious that they’re a last-minute buy.
Avoiding this really boils down to planning ahead and being organised. A few weeks before an event, why not head into the shops just to get an idea of what to purchase when the day gets closer? Just having a general idea of what type of gift you would like to buy, and what is available, will make buying the right gift a lot easier and stress-free.
Our final tip really is don’t stress so much about not spending enough. As cliched as it is, it really is the thought that counts. Everybody knows that you can’t be flushed with cash all the time. Most people will just be happy you went to the trouble of buying something at all. If they are someone that would actually care about the dollar amount you spent on them, they sound like a toxic person and need to be removed from your life immediately.