Real-Life Savings Series – Buying Gifts For Your Loved Ones

Real-life savings series - Buying gifts for your loved ones

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In this multi-part series, I am going to reflect upon the cost-cutting measures I have implemented in my own life. This will span across many decisions that have been made in the past 11+ years, while living in a two-person household. 

My goal with this series is to provide first-hand information about areas where I have had to review and adjust to meet certain objectives. This extra knowledge may help you in considering whether to take the next step in reducing your own household expenses.

Related article: Real-Life Savings Series – Bye-Bye Cable

It is around that time of the year that people start thinking about what they want to buy in terms of gifts for their loved ones. I am releasing this article ahead of the holidays so it can help you find ways to save money during this hectic time.

Within this article, I am going to highlight how my household approaches buying gifts for each other and for family and relatives with cost-cutting considerations.

Let’s get started!

Real-life savings series - Buying gifts for your loved ones

Buying Gifts In My Household Between Mr. FTD & Me

A few years back, Mr. FTD (aka hubs) and I incorporated gift-giving lists. This resulted in saving space and money.

I explain this in more detail in the two line items below:

1. Quality over quantity: Helps to give the other person options or suggestions on item(s) that are of interest, leading to more goods that are used rather than stored

2. Cost-cutting measures: Sets parameters in order to reduce needless spending

1. Quality over quantity

In the past, have you received a gift that is now tucked away and has gone unused? *raises hand*

This is where quality over quantity comes into play.

Gift-giving lists are essential in my household to keep from buying items that fill a space physically, but not usefully. Backtrack a few years, and there would be a plethora of gifts on the table or under the tree. Yes, it was nice. Though, some of those items are currently tucked away and kept merely for the sake of sentimental value.

Oftentimes, when considering what I want to offer as an option on my gift list, I tend to think about it more productively, rather than emotionally. My thought-process is, what do I need versus what do I want. I suggest certain items that I would use on a daily or a frequent basis (at least).

Don’t get me wrong, there are things I would like to have, but of course, they are “nice-to-haves”. Basically, I can pine from afar with these longings, but nothing that I would ask for at any regular interval.

Through this process, we still retain the thoughtful aspect of gift-giving. Our lists are not definitive but viewed as mere suggestions. For instance, I might say I want a new moisturizer from Sephora (one of my fave stores). That leads Mr. FTD in the right direction and still allows him to do the research to decide what brand he is actually going to purchase.

The rules aren’t strict though. If there’s something that Mr. FTD knows I want from past discussions, he will surprise me. Generally, it’s something I forgot I wanted. Major bonus points!

2. Cost-cutting measures

Do you mindlessly spend on gifts because it is a special occasion or holiday? *me a few years ago*

When it comes to cost-cutting measures this is where there has been a major shift in my household. We used to buy each other an excess of gifts for either birthdays or holidays, which would add up quickly.

$100 here.

$100 there.

$150 here.

$200 there.

You get the point…

Now, we scale back and put limits on how much to spend for each other. This deters us from accumulating an excess of hundreds of dollars in spending for each occasion. For instance, during Christmas, we focus on the importance of the season and leave a budget of $50/each for a thoughtful gift.

Setting these parameters has really helped us in purchasing less in terms of goods for each other. This allows us to place more emphasis on life experiences rather than material possessions.

Buying Gifts For Family & Relatives

When it comes to buying gifts for family and relatives, some things have changed throughout the years. I believe I have the perfect formula that works well for my household.

In prior years, I used to feel obligated to purchase at least one item for each person on my gift-giving list. Nowadays, I have started buying group gifts for each group on my list. The way I proceed in making this work is considering what each household would enjoy collectively. What do you think would be the answer at the end of this rainbow? FFFFFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDD! Ahem, food…

Everyone has to eat and it makes a rather great gift when the food is delicious. Naturally, I resort to purchasing delectable desserts in the form of coffee cakes, pastries, or chocolate-filled croissants. From time-to-time savory options make the list if they are crowd-pleasers. It’s great for groups of people AND for my wallet.

Plus, it’s super simple to peruse online, choose the right product, and have it sent directly to the recipients. Since it is an edible product, the delivery is a matter of a few days. Furthermore, because delivery can be troublesome during the holiday season, I have less to worry about as perfect timing is not necessary.

In the case of my recipients, what arrives is a sweet concoction that can be enjoyed prior to, during, and after the joyous occasion. How easy and satisfying is that?!

Group Gift Options

Do you need suggestions on what gifts would be practical to give to multiple people while still abiding by your budget?

Here is my list of online retailers I have used to gift edible treats in the past and come highly recommended:

  • QVC (food section)
  • Murray’s Cheese
  • Godiva
  • The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg

Keep in mind, the price range varies considerably, but there are many options that may have a place in your budget. If you are needing specific recommendations, let me know and I would be more than willing to help you!

I may try these retailers this season:

Does anyone else think a sweet treat sounds really good right about now?

When Scaling Back And Group Gifts Are Not An Option

Hey, I get it.

You may enjoy purchasing one gift for each person on your list or giving the kiddos one too many gifts to open – and that’s ok! There’s room for it all if you make the proper adjustments and it doesn’t break the budget.

A way you can do this with minor effects on the budget is this:

First, start by considering how much you plan on spending on gifts for the year. Take that amount and divide it by 12. If I were to use this methodology, let’s say my total gift budget is $600 divided by 12 – that’s $50. Allocating $50/month into a separate account will leave my household more than enough funds for gift-giving thoughout the year.

Secondly, transfer this money into a holding account each month so it’s off-limits to only buying gifts. Essentially, that means – set it and forget it! I transfer my funds to a holding account that I use for the sole purpose of collecting cash for buying gifts. It’s helped me feel like I have “found” money, when it’s just me being responsible – right?


If you start this at the beginning of the year and start saving $X/month, you will have the funds to reimburse yourself throughout the year. If at the end of the year the account is depleted that means you were successful in incorporating a gift-giving savings plan! Furthermore, this assures there won’t be a money hangover once the special occasion or holiday passes.

Buying gifts with no lingering worries – wouldn’t that be nice?

Real-life savings series - buying gifts for your loved ones
Buying Gifts In Review

Gift-giving should be a happy time when you carefully think about what you would like the recipient to receive – from YOU. In summary, ideas for gift-giving in the future can include an eye for quality over quantity, group giving, and planning ahead for must-give gifts. Having lots of prezzies to open on that special occasion is fun for a half day, but then when the bills come rolling in, it makes it all the less appealing.

Take your time and consider if the savings you would accumulate from each of these options would make it worthy of a second look, and proceed accordingly. I hope you enjoyed this article. Tune in for another edition of real-life savings in the near future. If you can’t wait, read the previous money saving article here.

A Way To Earn Money While You Shop

To get the most value out of making online purchases – I use Ebates. This method allows me to receive cash back for what I would buy anyway.

The process I use for online shopping:

When I am ready to make a purchase, I go to, log in to my account, and type in the retailer. If it is within the Ebates network it will come up with an option to click-through to the retailer. Once on the retailer’s website, I proceed as normal and add items to my cart and make payment. Once Ebates has verified the purchase, I receive the cash back into my Ebates account.

The percentages advertised will vary for each retailer. The funds accumulate in your Ebates account, and a check or online payment is issued at a designated time after each quarter when if you have an account balance of at least $5.01. It’s a good option for a busy season of purchasing either gifts or online goods.

I have used the service since 2013, and so far, I have accumulated almost $400. I only use it when I shop online, which means when I am either purchasing a gift, purchasing clothes on sale, or buying skincare products.

Ebates has a wide network of retailers for online shopping and select options for use in-store.

Tip: With my Ebates link, you will receive $10 after making your first $25 purchase.

Follow me @fulltimedollars on social media and sign up below for updates via email. Talk to you soon!

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PSA: Download and fill out your savings template and put it on the fridge so you are always reminded to save money for the gifts you give. Take a picture + tag @fulltimedollars to possibly be featured on my Instagram account!

Readers, do you have any nifty gift-giving ideas? How are you saving money in this area? Please share with the community in the comments below!

Original photo credit: Pixabay












2 thoughts on “Real-Life Savings Series – Buying Gifts For Your Loved Ones

  1. Quality over quantity for sure! Nothing is worse then giving something to someone that they wont care about by the end of the month. If you are going to give a gift make sure it is something that will be well received and the person will be so much more grateful…this doesn’t necessarily mean more money either.

    1. Yes sir, it certainly doesn’t have to cost much to get something of quality. I joke with my husband about how easy it is to shop for me. Just go to Sephora, go to skincare, close your eyes, turn round and round, and likely I will be happy with the item he sees once his world stops spinning.

      On the other hand, it’s realllllllllly hard to shop for guys, that’s why I need that list..!

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