Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Shopping During Tough Economic Times

Holiday shopping during tough economic times is a challenge. For most people, this holiday budget is tight thanks to higher gas prices and increased food costs that ate into family finances this past year. Rather than scouring the ads and storefronts looking for that perfect gift, consider showing your love and appreciation by giving gifts that also provide financial relief for the recipient. Doing so means that the person has one less expense to worry about or does not have to decide whether or not to remove that particular expense from their budget. Gift certificates for personal care. During tight economic times, many people forego personal services such as hair styling, manicures, or massages. A little pampering is something that anyone can appreciate, especially when it is free! Gift cards to local restaurants. Dining out as a couple or with friends is something that people often cut back on when trying to stretch their dollars. Payment of a service. Does someone need to have some pictures framed or a room painted? Get a few estimates, and consider offering to pay for the service. If it is a bigger expense, perhaps several family members can all contribute to the cost and give one big gift. A trip or outing. Depending on one’s budget, a trip to see a show may be a luxury that they cannot afford. Additionally, if you do this as a family, you are giving the priceless gift of memories, too. A nice framed picture taken on the trip can serve as a gift to compliment the outing. Membership in a club or organization. A membership to the local “Y”, gym, or outdoor club usually has a cost attached. Especially for older people, it is important for their well-being that they stay connected and socially active. A gift of an annual membership renewal is a gift that will last the whole year through. Lessons or instruction. A registration for a sports clinic or enrollment in a local theater class makes a nice gift especially for a young person whose family might consider these things out of the budget for a while. Subscription to a magazine. Find out the person’s interests and hobbies, and consider a one-year subscription to a magazine. If they like it, you may have next year’s gift already figured out! Whatever you decide to give, it is important to keep in mind that the gift should be self-sustaining. For example, a cell phone may seem like a good idea, however, unless you are also planning to foot the monthly bill, there is a chance that the gift will be returned or never used. Be sure that whatever gift you give does not add more financial burden to the recipient. Gifts that support the usual and ordinary aspects of life are most precious during times when money is tight and the future uncertain.

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