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Shopping for Gifts When You’re in Debt


I know it’s June so why am I talking about gift giving? Well, the year is almost half way over which means the holidays will be here before you know it, which is why you need to start thinking about it now. When you’re in debt, shopping for gifts can be hard. Between birthdays, holidays, and even events like graduation, it can seem as if you are always spending money to get something for someone. So what happens when you feel like you don’t have enough cash to buy a gift?

Communicate About Finances

You don’t have to get into the details about your financial situation, but it is worth it to tell people that you are on a strict budget with yourself. Perhaps offer to that you don’t give each other gifts this year. While it may seem embarrassing at first, you’d be setting yourself up for budget failure if you spent money you really don’t have. If you are uncomfortable about talking about your finances, you can always just say that you are trying to save money, and leave it at that.

Set Money Aside

Setting money aside to go shopping for gifts when you’re in debt may seem wasteful, but it’s the opposite! Because you are adding this expense into your budget, you won’t have to worry about where the money will come from when the time comes that you need to buy gifts You don’t have to set aside a large amount every month, but it could be beneficial to save at least $5 per gift. By doing this, you can calculate how much you would need to save based on the people you buy for and how many gifts you’ll give them throughout the year.

While saving for gifts, make sure to save the money in a place you won’t be tempted to use the funds. Whether that be an online account, a separate savings account, or even a piggy bank in the back of your closet, make sure to keep this money out of sight and out of mind until it comes time to buy gifts.

If you have trouble sticking to your budget to set aside money for gifts, use an app like Qapital. I’m currently using Qapital to save for a vacation, but you can set all kinds of goals including saving for gifts. You then set rules for when Qapital saves. It could be when you come under budget, or when you hit a step goal for the day, or when you shop a guilty pleasure. Set your goals and rules and let Qapital do the rest.

Shop Sales Year Round

Some of the best times to shop for gifts are when the seasons change, and right after major holidays like Christmas and New Years. If you are saving money on a monthly basis, you can always stock up on gifts during these times. If shopping around sales, think about the type of gifts that the recipient needs or wants.

Having a mental list will keep you from buying a gift that they won’t need or want. If you need to go shopping during a time where there aren’t many sales, you can still save money by checking out weekly flyers or using online apps and coupons. Even saving a little bit on a gift is better than not saving anything.

Don’t Let It Pile Up

The biggest mistake you can make while shopping for gifts when you’re in debt is to let it all pile up. If you have a hard time remembering birthdays or other special celebrations, make a list and keep it close to you. If you know you need to get multiple gifts within the same month, try to purchase them a month or two ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling.

The last thing you want to do is run around at the last minute buying gifts that are too expensive because you weren’t prepared. By making a plan and a list, you eliminate the need for last minute stops and shopping, keeping more money in your wallet and are able to give a well-planned gift.

Remember It’s The Thought That Counts

No matter what, it’s important to remember that buying gifts for loved ones doesn’t have to be an extravagant affair. At the end of the day, they will be happy that you thought enough of them to get them a gift. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to gift giving.

Instead, do what you can and show them your appreciation by giving them a gift that shows just how much you care. Even if the gift is as simple as a handwritten card and some of of their favorite candy, being personal can really go a long way with those you care about.

Related: The Best Gifts I’ve Ever Received

Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top

Shopping for gifts when you’re in debt is hard, but not impossible. You don’t have to spend a ton of money, or time, in order to get buy gifts for the special people in your life. You also don’t have to derail your debt payoff plan by buying things you can’t afford. With a little planning and thought, you’ll be able to pay off debt and still give gifts without breaking the bank.

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  1. Lance @ My Strategic Dollar says:

    Great info! I start shopping for christmas in October. I spend a certain percentage of my present budget each paycheck so I don’t get into trouble! Normally, I’m done shopping by the time December comes around and I avoid the crowds! It’s a beautiful thing.

    1. Yes! I love being done with shopping before all the holiday craziness starts.

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