When most people think of ways to save money the first thought that comes to mind is not usually shopping. But for this tip, I am going to have you do just that. We are going to talk about the art of the gift closet. My best frugal tip.
Sometimes you need to make a little investment to save a lot. And this investment is going to save you money, is going to save you time and may just save the day too.
Have I sparked your interest yet?
One of my favorite budgeting tips of all is the gift closet. I cannot tell you how much money I have saved over the years with this little gem of a tip. Most of you probably know what a gift closet is, but for those of you that don’t here’s a brief explanation.
Simply put, a gift closet is just what it sounds like. It’s a closet (or drawer, or cupboard, or a tote under your bed) where you stash random gifts for birthday’s, anniversaries, Christmas, you name it.
The goodies that you keep inside your gift closet can be used for just about anything.
Now I know what some of you are thinking.
Gifts are meant to be personal and show how much you think of the recipient.
That can still hold true with this system. When you pick up items you are usually buying them with someone in mind. If you just grab things because it is a great deal you are really not saving money.
It is important to note at this point that when you are on a budget a purchase should never be made without intention. Meaning an item is always purchased with a purpose in mind.
- Food is bought with the purpose of eating.
- Clothes are bought with the purpose of dress.
- Household items are bought to handle household tasks.
You see where I am going with this. The same holds true with items for a gift closet. Your purchase items for specific people to be used as a gift for an upcoming holiday. By spreading the large cost of holiday gifts out over the course of the year it will have little impact on your family budget.
If there is no one you have in mind to give the item too, you are in turn wasting money. This completely defeats the purpose of the gift closet.
Before you buy any item take a minute to think who it is for and why. If you can easily think of a recipient that will like or love the item in your hand, then buy it.
If not, PUT IT BACK.
You will save more money leaving the item in question in the store than you will with that item at home gathering dust.
The only exception to this rule is when you buy items to be used for hostess gifts. I do like to have a few generic gifts on hand for dinners, parties or other events that call for a last minute gift.
How to fill your gift closet.
Since I am on a budget I always make sure to have a few dollars in my errand book for deals I can put in my gift closet. I never know when a good sale is going to hit so having funds earmarked just for my gift closet will keep me on budget.
Remember the whole point of this gift closet is to save you money not cost you money.
When I am out running errands I may see a sale bin. I just take a few minutes to rummage through and see if there are any deals. I will be thinking of my family and close friends as I rummage.
I just love to rummage.
I love to rummage especially for Christmas.
I am a stocking stuffing gal. I LOVE to give stockings as gifts. They are so much fun to fill and I can really get creative and goofy with the gifts. A gift closet is the best and most affordable way to do this.
So, as I am rummaging through the bin I see a mini clipboard marked down to .50. My dad loves to do crossword puzzles and tends to grab random magazines to write on. This little clipboard will work perfectly for him. Into my shopping basket, it goes.
I just found a gift for him for 50 cents! I actually gave him this exact gift last year for Christmas and he loved it!
For 50 cents PEOPLE!!!!
I think so many people ignore the gift closet idea because they think it takes the love out of shopping. It really doesn’t at all. We all shop for the same people over and over.
Our family and close friends.
The whole purpose of the gift closet is to spread out the cost of purchasing a large number of gifts over an extended period of time.
When you are filling your gift closet those people are still in your thoughts as you choose your items. It’s the same thing, only you are saving money doing it. That does not by any means take the love out of a gift.
Paying full price shows no more love than paying half.
Okay, moving on…….
How to organize your gift closet.
This is by far one of the most important parts of the gift closet.
If you just toss items into it, not only will you forget what was in there, but you will also forget who the gift is for and when you plan to give it.
Like I said before, you will not save any money if you purchase gifts that only sit in your gift closet gathering dust.
Have a purpose for each and every single gift.
But, how do you remember that your cousin Kathy is supposed to receive the coffee and bacon scented candle because she loves bacon at breakfast?
Easy. You label it.
Haha, I know….but hear me out!
As soon as you get home take your purchases and go to your closet. Take Kathy’s candle and grab yourself a post-it note. Write on it:
Birthday gift October 2018
I promise you no matter how old you are, if you buy cousin Kathy a gift in February you WILL NOT remember come October that she is the recipient.
Label it as soon as you buy it so you don’t forget it.
After you label, it put it in your gift closet.
You are not done yet.
Next stop is your calendar file where you keep your Birthday reminders for the year. Jot a little note reminding yourself that you have a gift for cousin Kathy for her Birthday. This will not only remind you of the gift so you can get it to her on time, it will also keep you from buying more than you need for each person.
What do you do when you have quite a few items for a certain person?
Like I said before I love to fill stockings. In order to keep things organized and not overbuy, I use this super simple tip.
I put all items per person in a brown paper grocery bag.
I like the grocery bags because they are big, stand up, are easy to toss in items and I can label the outside of the bag so I do not have to label every single gift.
This saves loads of time.
Finally, if you have oodles of people to buy for each year you may be worried about over buying simply because you can’t remember in the store how many gifts you have already in your gift closet.
You can easily keep a list of what you have (or at least the bigger items) in your errand book. I have a short list of what I have and gift ideas I get throughout the year.
The beauty of this book is it always goes with me.
If I see a deal in a store I can look quick in my errand book and see if I bought it or anything like it. I also keep my gift closet money there so I know where it is at all times. Don’t panic, it’s not a large amount. Just $20. So you don’t have to worry too much about anyone stealing it.
Random gifts for unexpected events.
This is my favorite part of the gift closet.
If you practice my Once A Month Grocery Shopping advice you know the best way to save money is to simply stay out of the stores. So, when you are invited to a dinner at your best friends home and you want to take a little something to say thank you. The last thing you want to do is run to the mall to grab a gift and be tempted to blow your budget with one quick visit.
I like to keep small items that I can easily use for this occasion. Candles with matching dishtowels are perfect. I keep quirky towels on hand for moments like this. Nothing shows I love you than a dish towel with a goat on it. 🙂
Okay kids, I never intended for this post to be this long. But when I get excited about something I tend to talk.
Just ask Hubs. 🙂
But I think the reason the gift closet gets such a bad rap is that so many people don’t realize how to use it.
Now that you have tips on how to fill and tips on how to keep the “care” in the gift giving and even tips on how to remember what is in it, you have no excuses!
Get yourself a gift closet, or gift drawer, or gift box for under the bed even and never worry about blowing your budget at Christmas again.
Happy shopping peeps!