Gifting within your means is okay

During the holiday season, many have anxiety to give more than they can afford. It’s okay to give within your means.

‘Tis the season for friends, family, and gifts. As we all know, the feeling of giving is much more rewarding than receiving….although it’s still pretty great to receive gifts too. However, this time of year also brings much anxiety to many who may not have the extra means to do so in the way they feel they should.

Though no one wants to be the one at the party who didn’t bring a gift, remember that everyone is at a different place in their lives at different times. True friends and family will understand, or should at least, if you are having a tough time.

Your basic needs must come first. Your landlord would likely not be happy if you used your rent for gifts for friends and family, simply because you felt you were obligated to.

A few things to consider when planning your gift buying:

  1. Plan in advance—put a little money away each month throughout the year so you have it when you need it in December. 
  2. Stay within your budget—don’t feel obligated to buy your family and friends the newest, flashiest, coolest thing if you cannot afford to. There may be a time in the future that you can do this, but if now is not the time, don’t cut yourself off financially to buy that gift…they will understand. 
  3. Be Creative—tap into your creative side when thinking of gift ideas. If times are tough financially, a simple handmade card, a picture of you and your family or family pet, or something funny that signifies a memory with the person you are giving to might actually mean more than a fancy gadget that is popular, but too expensive for your budget.

Just because the social norm is to provide gifts to everyone close to you, does not necessarily mean you have to. Though it can be tough to take this approach in order to provide happiness for those you care about, simply keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself first. If they truly care, they will understand.

Be smart and realistic when planning your gifting strategy. Remember, the season is more about spending time with friends and family then it is about the gifts.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.”