Tip for Tuesday: Gift List and Gift Cache

I have a budget.  One of the columns on that budget is labeled "gifts."  Since I really love giving gifts, there never seems to be enough money in that budget.

Or, suddenly it's someone's birthday and I have .754 seconds to get a thoughtful gift and find a card.  I hate when that happens.

Over the years, I have begun to start a gift cache.  Some of the things there are re-gifts (things that were lovely gifts but something I didn't need), some are things I got on super-sale and couldn't think of an immediate use but knew someone would love, and the rest is a collection of things I've gotten on sale for friends and family members throughout the year that I'm saving for an occasion.

I love it when I find items for this cache-- they're usually found on the kind of shopping trip where I call my mom saying, "I got such and such and such-- guess how much it cost?!"  And she responds in shock and awe!

{I learned from the best}

But that's nothing new; you probably have a gift cache too.  But the newest tip regarding the gift cache is the gift list.  One day, I decided to sit down and make a list of every single gift I would need to buy (forseeably)for the entire year.  It took a while.  I listed them by month-- each holiday, each birthday, and each name for Christmas.  Then I started filling in gift ideas.

It helps if you have Pinterest.  If you don't already, get an account on this site!  Seriously!  Do searches for DIY gifts, inexpensive gifts, baby gifts, whatever it is you're looking for, and then write down your ideas.  Another help was blogs.  I subscribe to a number of couponing/deal blogs, and daily deals show up on my blog feed several times throughout the day, giving me gift ideas.  Soon I had my list mostly filled up with DIY projects I'm going to try, or inexpensive gift ideas.  Each gift was probably $10 or less!  Now if I actually DO the DIY projects, then it will be a success.  Don't worry if you have a lot of empty spots.  Those will fill in as you shop throughout the year (see tips below), but at least now you have every event you could think of written down, so there will be no surprises!  I keep mine in my purse so that if I'm out and see something for a great price, I see who it could fit on my list. 

Another benefit is you can see who is going to need cards throughout the year, so if you have, for example, a $1 off coupon for three American Greeting cards at Target, you won't search for random cards you'll never send, but instead will know exactly what you need.  I recommend this site for purchasing cards online.  They have endless, personalize-able options, and they often run specials in which you can order and ship a card for completely free!  I love it! 

Now that you have your gift list, here are my tips for shopping for your gift cache:

Personal Shower: find a Victoria's Secret outlet and purchase cute lingerie for $10 each; get on Victoria Secret's mailing list, and you'll often get $10 off a purchase of $10 coupons, and even free underwear coupons.  Also, stores like Marshall's and Ross carry inexpensive lingerie.

Store Coupons: take advantage of the $10 off $10, or $10 off $25, or whatever combo is sent out, and find items that would fit people on your list.  It's like getting free money.  I find that JCPenney (well, maybe before their recent changes) and Kohls have been awesome with this. 

Magazine Subscriptions: if you check deal blogs like me, you'll see that at least once a week, magazine subscription deals pop up.  I have gotten subscriptions for as low as $5 a year in the past, and it's a gift that keeps giving, all year long!

Use Coupons: Subscribe to newsletters online and get weekly coupons for Michael's, JoAnn's, Target, etc.  These are great, especially the craft stores, for picking up not just craft supplies for your DIY projects, but also ready-made gifts, like picture frames, candles, vases, etc.  They send at least one 40% off a single item coupon per week, and sometimes 50%-- imagine how much money you could save if you buy one gift a week!

Freebies: Bath and Body Works is one of many stores that offer a freebie with a purchase.  So you want those 2 for $20 candles (my favorite, BTW)?  Get them when you have a coupon for a free Signature Collection item of your choice.  You can sometimes get up to $13 items for free!  You'll need to get on the mailing list and/or purchase something to get coupons.

Shop Smarter, not Harder: Don't run around to a thousand places if you can get stuff for the same price on Amazon and take advantage of free shipping.  Be sure to group as much as you can together so you don't have to pay for shipping on a smaller order later.  Similarly, if you're getting something from Kmart or Walmart or a store like that, buy it online and have it sent to the store for free pickup-- I suppose it doesn't really save money unless you count driving to the store only to find they don't have what you want in stock.  But it does make life easier when you can shop from your couch.

A word of warning: try to avoid giving gifts that don't really fit that person's taste, just because you have it.  Nobody wants to be "that girl," with the crappy gifts.  Put genuine thought into your list (you can even add notes or ideas about what they like).  Search Amazon and Etsy for ideas, and then use those ideas to find the best prices there or somewhere else at a later date.  DON'T give them the socks your grandma knit you unless you know they love homemade knit socks.  I don't, but you know, whatever. 

I think once you make that list, you'll breathe a sigh of relief that this silent burden is off your shoulders-- then happy shopping!

xoxo, A