Simple Living – Forward Present Planning

Some people like to leave things to the very last moment to buy Birthday and Christmas presents, some people don’t have a choice because funds are very limited and they, rather sensibly, don’t want to make gift purchases too early and then find themselves ‘short’ financially and unable to make ends meet.

But.

IF you can afford to buy presents throughout the year and put these gifts aside, it really does help to spread the cost and also helps to cut out the last minute, grab-something-that-will-have-to-do presents….and  particularly with regard to Christmas present buying… well some people might love all that queueing and pushing and shoving and road raging around trying to get a hold of that ‘must have’ gift…but most of us don’t need the hassle on top of an already demanding time of year.

There will always be something that you need to save up for or to have to wait until nearer the time to buy…for example;  children may want one present in November, for Christmas, and then change their minds and want something altogether different, come December –  but buying other gifts and stocking fillers as and when you see something you know your friends and families will like, may well help to avoid the nightmare December-Christmas overspend.

Forward Present Planning is a huge bonus for people like me who love buying gifts for peoples Birthday and Christmas but:

a) Don’t have much money but can stretch it just enough to accomodate making  present purchases that are just too good to pass up, throughout the year.

b) find it a bit hard to strike the  festivity/spirituality balance while  jostling shoulder to shoulder with other frenzied shoppers in stores that are heaving with customers and queues during the run up to Christmas.

c) like to take the time to really think about what to buy for loved ones…often making handcrafted gifts that need lots of preparation throughout the year.

d) Don’t happen to want to spend Advent busting a gut carrying lots of heavy, bulky shopping bags from crowded store to crowded store, paying a big car parking fee, having to buy coffee or lunch out…but only if you can find somewhere with an available table to sit at yadda yadda yadda…. You know how it is. Perhaps where gift shopping is concerned the old adage, ‘little and often’ should be put into practice?

There are other benefits to forward present planning too.

For instance, quite apart from the bargains that can be gleaned in the January (and every month, it seems) sales, shopping online can be a godsend when buying early birthday/Christmas gifts as most big department stores have their own websites and they frequently offer free delivery with or sometimes without a minumum order spend. It can be said that ordering online is too easy, and i would agree with that (i have a whole other post in draft about online shopping so won’t really get too wordy about it here), but i think there are lots of added benefits to online shopping that are not available to the store-consumer too.

So this is my simple living suggestion this week.

Plan and think ahead.

Grab yourself a cuppa and sit down for 10 or 20 minutes and think about who you have to buy pressies for,  for Birthdays and Christmas in 2009…and don’t forget Anniversary’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc.

Then think about what your budget is for each person/gift and about the kind of gifts which you know the recipients would appreciate. These don’t have to be ‘spendy gifts’ either! For my daughters 16th birthday i made her a scrapbook with writing and photos in it recording the 16 years since her birth. That took quite a bit of planning, it probably took about  5 or 6 weeks to do, especially as i could only do it during school hours when she wasn’t at home, or late at night when she was in bed. (More posts about making gifts to come!) Wondergirl absolutely LOVED it!

Two of the most essential pieces of equipment in Forward Present Planning are:

  • a pen/pencil
  • a notebook

I really can’t stress enough how important it is to write down the gifts you buy and who the intended recipient is. I can’t count how many times i have bought ‘a gift for X’…and then put it away, forgetting that i already have purchased for this or that person – it helps to keep your gifts in one place too, and to not hide them all over the house and forget about them!

Although saying that, of course it can come in handy having a few extra little gifts put away for unexpected guests or for kids to give as gifts for  their teachers etc… but at the same time, it isn’t really simplifying life if we  buy more gifts than we would really wish to give out and things like Best Before Dates need to be taken into consideration if giving perishables/some toiletries…and that is what this is all about for me, simplifying life. I don’t want the hassle of December ’09 rolling around and finding myself completely unprepared, or remembering birthdays at the last minute and not having the time or maybe even the mony to purchase a ‘thoughtful’ well considered gift.

I think it’s important to note that I never buy rubbish and only ever buy gifts that i would like to receive myself. But I always try to get some kind of deal or discount on my purchases, and while it’s a good thing for my purse, it’s a good thing for the recipient too…because it means they get more gift than i would otherwise be able to afford to give them. I’ve only ever had one occassion where someone discovered the real price of their gift and let me know it. But i really can’t think why anyone would care as long as they are getting a quality gift that is given with love. Most people wouldn’t want me to be giving gifts that leave me out of pocket, not the people i buy presents for anyway!

Forward present planning means giving thoughtful gifts and/or gifts that may look like you’ve spent an absolute fortune but really you’ve just put some thought and planning into present buying to ensure your loved one gets a lovely gift, but hopefully (with a bit of savvy shopping) at no huge outlay to yourself. One thing is for sure, I  could never afford to give what i give if i didn’t use this method of gift planning and shopping. I hope you will find it helpful too!

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3 Responses to Simple Living – Forward Present Planning

  1. Sarah says:

    You have thought this through for all of us. Anyway, I can’t imagine complaining about how much a person does or doesn’t spend on a gift – how ungrateful anyway! I love your ideas.

  2. I really can’t stress enough how important it is to write down the gifts you buy and who the intended recipient is.

    absolutely. I’ve wasted money in buying gifts (on sale, or when I’ve seen the ‘perfect’ gift … only to forget I’ve bought it – or where I’ve put it

    I’d also add that it’s really important NOT to get caught up inthe ‘she bought for me, so I have to reciprocate’ … the Bible talks about being a cheerful giver -and falling into that trap makes giving a necessity and not at all good.

    We didn’t do stockings this year at all. Last year I mostly only put in things I’d have to buy anyway (shaving cream for hubby, socks etc) – it seemed wasteful – and I’m NOT A FAN of those little cheap stocking fillers that you don’t need anyway – what a wasteof money to have a plastic gnome/elf made with slave labour in China and then discarded once pulled out of the stocking. Been there, done that -and won’t go back to it.

    My dad once said that for him as a child getting a card from his family on his birthday and then having a candle on the cake which his mum made for the Sunday anyway – meant the world to him. We’ve become so materialistic with “I want” (and also fall into the deceived thinking of thinking we actually need the new phone, the third red jumper etc) … I want to return to a simpler way of life – and think the credit crunch is going to help us do that.

    Tightening the belt won’t feel good – but oh – how we all need it!!!

  3. kate says:

    Brilliant ideas!

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