Monday, November 14, 2016

Reviewing and Budgeting For 2017: Gifts

I have to tell you up front that this is a very tough category for Hubby and I. We love spoiling the grandchildren and our kids. So we struggled for days with setting a budget for this one.

For the first 10 months of 2016, we have spent $2435.55 or $243.56 a month on gifts. For the last 12 months we have spent $ 2809.79 or $ 234.15 on gifts. That is a large chunk of our spending money. Plus that doesn't even include the majority of gifts purchased with rewards and rebates. Even though we tried to reign this in mid year, we did not have much success.

After mulling this over and over, we have decided to reign in this spending for 2017. We are setting a fixed budget that we are going to stick to. 

We will not accept any invitations for baby shower or weddings unless it is family or best friends. The baby shower invitations in the neighborhood have gotten overwhelming. So I will RSVP no and send a small gift. I have set a budget of $100. total for those during all of 2017. If I can make a nice gift cheaply, I will. If not, I will work the sales and rebates to get the nicest gift at a great discount. I realize that if we RSVP no that we do not have to send a gift. So I will take that into consideration also. If it is a wedding invitation of a friend's child that we haven't seen in 15 years, I will not send a gift. If it is a baby shower invitation of a best friend's daughter then that will get a small gift. However we will stick to the $100. and when it is gone, it is gone.

For family, we have decided to stick to the following budget:

Sons and Daughter in Laws: 

Birthdays: $ 50.00 x 4 = $ 200.00
Anniversaries: $50.00 x 2 = $ 100.00
Christmas: $ 50.00 x 4 = $ 200.00  

We usually get them gift cards to a restaurant, department store or Amazon for birthdays and anniversaries.

For Christmas, they either get cash if there is something that they are saving for or a $100.00 gift card for the two of them together for a restaurant, department store or Amazon.


Birthdays: $100.00 x 2 = $ 200.00
Christmas: $100.00 x 2 = $ 200.00
Souvenirs: $ 30.00 x 2 = $ 60.00
Little Purchases During the Year: $ 50.00 x 2 = $ 100.00

When my grandson turns 9 he will get a nice TV like we did for our granddaughter but that won't happen in 2017.  Souvenirs will be when we go to the Zoo or some place else during the year. Then when we are out and about with the grandchildren and they want something or we want to surprise them with something that is when the $100.00 little purchase budget will kick in.

So the gift budget for 2017 totals $1,160.00. If I can pay for some of this with credit card rewards I will. This year I will track what rewards I use for gifts. My rebates, bottle deposits, and small change are being saved over the next year for my spending money at Disney World in January 2018.

Hubby and I do not exchange gifts for Christmas, anniversaries or birthdays. We may go out to dinner for our anniversary or birthdays but that comes out of our restaurant and eating out budget.

It was very hard coming up with these numbers and it will be very hard to stick to. However knowing that we have a trust set up for all of our children and grandchildren that we invest into every month makes it a little easier.

Do you overspend on gifts especially for your children and grandchildren? Is it wrecking your budget? Do you charge those gifts and then have the pressure of those awful bills coming due in January? Are you spending months paying those bills off? Perhaps you should sit down and work out a gift budget for next year like we did. And then stick to it. 


  1. You are so kind and generous to your grandkids! I know you struggle with buying too much for them. But having a MIL of my own, who constantly over-bought for my girls as they were growing up. I have to say, less is more and the grands won't love you any less, and will likely appreciate you more. My kids always ended up with all this stuff they neither asked for nor wanted. It drove me nuts finding brand new games, toys and clothes in their rooms months and months later that when asked they said to give it to Goodwill.

    To this day (my girls are now 19 & 21) my MIL always asks to take them to the mall to shop and I struggle, because she will easily spend $250 each and as much as I talk to the girls about being thoughtful with what they let her buy them, every 4 months or so I have at least 2 bags of Goodwill donations from each kid! They can't manage it all and have no room to store it all. IT MAKES ME CRAZY as I tried my best to raise non-consumerists and I feel they take it all for granted!

    Anyway, just a few thoughts for you. At least you contribute to a trust/college fund. I tried to get my MIL to do that and she just couldn't bare the thought of them not opening tons of gifts from her for holidays and birthdays. Its just nuts!

    Yours, DeeCee

    1. Hi DeeCee,

      Thanks so much for sharing this. I always wondered now my DIL's might think about this. It is good to look at the other side sometimes. I feel much better about cutting back now.

  2. We have a hard time with our gift budget as well, so I can only sympathize. :-) We don't accrue debt, but certainly could be saving more if we watched the numbers a bit more closely. We had a few one time gifts this year, but have generally done better.

    1. Hi Hawaii Planner,

      Thanks for sharing. It is hard.

  3. I hear about many older folks w/grands overdo it with the gifting. As I don't have any(yet and may never have any)I can't say what I'd do on this one. I guess as long as your own needs and spending budget for it aren't suffering due to gifts being bought then you are doing a-ok.

    Personally I probably wouldn't be spending as much on grands if I had them, especially if they are young. I feel that spending time with them is more important than a high priced toy(s). And you have to take into consideration that grandparents aren't the only "Santas" in their lives if their mom and/or dad are funding their wish list. If the parents send a substantial amount on their kids' gifts grandparents shouldn't be expected to spend likewise. I know in some situations the parents can't afford to provide a "nice" Christmas giftwise for their kids so the granparents pick up that slack and lay out for the toys. If no ones budget is busted and this works for the everyone situation then go for it.
    It's the people who slap down the credit cards when they don't have the actual $ for the gift and just worry about it come January that worry me. The putting on a show and hiding the truth from themselves and their family which causes me issues.

    In general, I just think parents spend way too much on their kids' Christmases and have for years. Hundreds or even a thousand $s buying their kids' holiday gifts was the norm around our neighborhood when my kids were growing up. Not in our household. You give kids everything they want and they get the idea that this is how life will be. They grow up with a sense of entitlement, never knowing want. This leads to adults who are never satisfied with anything and suffer disappointment in life.

    We use to spend $100 on the kids for birthdays but now that some are adults we only spend $50 on them(the youngest still gets $100 as he is still in school). I do spend more on them as Christmas but not really as I use freebies to pay for some of it. Ssssh, don't tell them. lolz

    1. Hi Slugmama,

      Thanks for sharing. I agree the most important thing is to spend time with them which I love.

      Nice budget for the kids. Yah have to love those freebies too!

  4. Sounds like a tough decision on gifts, but I'm sure the grandchildren will really appreciate the trust and being able to graduate from college debt free. Experiences and family time are more important to me; I love making happy memories, and it sounds like your family will treasure the time together more than anything.

  5. I was spending $100 for each grandchild times four which was $400.00 and never knowing what to buy with so many toys, clothes, and stuff. Last year I bought a family gift of a years subscription to our science center. Best gift and the parents loved being able to go any time and actually spending time with the kids and not more stuff the grandchild didn't need or play with. Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      That is a great idea! I will look into that in the future. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I loved your post several weeks ago about deciding to make a change on gifts and holiday spending reduction when you polled your readers. I liked seeing all the ideas from everyone for different points in life (young kids, older kids, grand kids etc). I also love that you made such a drastic shift to help further meet your goals in 2017. I completely agree with the comments everyone has shared about trying to limit their consumerism, quality time being the more important gift. We love the idea of memberships to local children's activities and the grandparents have helped add those to the list- we go all year long to his 3 favorite places. The indoor ones are great on bad weather days to get energy out. We made a change this year for our preschooler based off idea from a reader on one of your previous posts and added a few things to it- something you want (first bike), something you need for your hobby/interests(soccer ball), something to wear (soft & warm new winter hat), something to read (book on dinosaurs), something to do (museum membership), something for Me (annual christmas ornament to put on tree), something for the family (a new christmas movie to watch together or a game to play like hungry hippos). It's 7 things but it keeps the clutter down, keeps me from donating more to goodwill.....etc.
    Thanks for sharing and happy holidays!

    1. Hi AJ,

      It's great to hear from you. I loved seeing all of the ideas also. I am going to look into memberships next year. Thanks for sharing and happy that you found some good ideas from my readers. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  7. hi AD this is Chris. We were new grandparents last Christmas. It is hard not to spoil them. We got the little kid sized table and chairs b/c the whole family will be able to use, we still have the one my parents bought our oldest and now the grandkids will be able to use. We are thinking about getting some things like wagon, sandbox, Little Tykes car, etc for occasions while she is small, and they can be used by any other kids they have for a long time. I love the zoo pass, science center, etc idea and will do that later. We don't have a trust like you do, but did give some money for her 529 when she was baptized and will continue to give to that as we can.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I love that you are grandparents now. It's so wonderful. Enjoy them!