5 Simple Ways You Can #DoMoreWithLess
Ask any random person on the street, and you’ll probably have a very hard time finding someone who would say “no” to saving money, time, or any other finite resource. Indeed, it’s within our nature to go for the option that entails the least amount of effort and provides maximum returns; the option that takes the simple and mundane and turns it into the extraordinary.
That said, there is perhaps no other season that brings out that particular trait of humanity with such intensity and (shameless consumerism) as Christmas. Often marketed as a time of joy, hope, and peace — and loved by children who regard it to be the only other special event aside from birthdays when the act of asking for something expensive falls within the realm of the reasonable — Christmas tends to bring with it three things: Season-appropriate songs as early as September, shiny decorations, and sale after sale (after sale).
However, all the special discounts available during Christmas — or any other season for that matter — won’t save you from the reality of overspending, especially if you have a lot of friends. On top of that, the time you’ll be spending trying to make your loved ones happy through little trinkets will guarantee that you won’t have time for anything else. Thankfully, as someone with sufficient experience in making stupid financial choices and being forced to find ways to not sleep on the streets after blowing my budget, I can say I’ve had a substantial amount of experience when it comes to this matter.
- Wrap gifts strategically.
Some people may look at gift wrapping as a simple three-step process: Buy gift wrapper, wrap presents, secure with copious amounts of tape or a ribbon. However, without proper planning, you’re most likely going to end up repeating the first step about seven more times than you’d like – and going through your budget faster than you could say “A paper bag will have to do.”
Thankfully, this is the kind of problem that can be solved with just a pair of scissors and even the most basic understanding of how to measure things. All you have to do is to figure out how big your gift is (get your mind out of the gutter!) and cut just enough gift wrapper to cover it entirely, with as little overlap as possible. For example, you definitely won’t be needing as much wrapper to cover a notebook as you’d need for a rice cooker, right? It’s all about being smart and understanding the value of using your resources at hand sparingly.
- Make a list and check it twice.
Santa makes a list of naughty and nice kids; it’s not unreasonable to think that he does this to keep track of the gifts that his elves are making, too. It’s a nice practice for you to adopt, actually – why not make a list of people you’re going to give gifts too. Take it a step further and write down exactly what you’re going to give them. Is your mother getting a washing machine from you this year? What about uncle Pedro – is he going to be happy with a vacuum cleaner, an air conditioner, or a set of light bulbs?
By doing this, you not only manage to keep track of your gift list, you’ll also be able to take a systematic approach to buying gifts. You can plan your shopping route, manage your budget for the big shopping day (I suggest you do all of your Christmas shopping at once to avoid having to go out multiple times), and easily think of substitutes in case they don’t have the “perfect” gift that you had in mind.
There’s one more way to get past this, though…
- Buy in bulk.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking – it probably doesn’t sound right to you, and you may even feel like getting a certain group of your loved ones exactly the same gift means taking what makes them special for granted. While this is a point that you can definitely argue, I think that buying in bulk solves a lot of your problems, and is definitely worth a shot.
For starters, there is no written rule that you should be getting everyone something unique and expensive. Even though it sounds as cheesy as a Hallmark Special, Christmas isn’t about the price tag attached to your gifts, but rather the very idea that you got your loved ones gifts in the first place.
Furthermore, this saves you the trouble of having to think about individual gifts. Imagine if you were planning to give gifts to your officemates, some of whom you barely even talk to – do you really have time to talk to Alex from IT and find out what kind of blender or coffee maker he wants to receive? And then do the same for every other person on your list? Thought so. Something that you can buy multiples of in one go – pretty notebooks, elegant pens, small cakes, quality shirts – is certainly a good option. (Still, I’m not discouraging you from getting them something nice, like a toaster or whatever.)
- Set a budget (and stick to it).
Remember when I said that special sales won’t do much in helping you save money during the holidays? That’s because there’s so damn many of them that it’s hard to resist the temptation of going headfirst into a sale when you’ve just emerged from one while carrying a ton of shopping bags.
That’s because most Christmas shoppers – especially the ones who either forget to buy certain gifts or change their minds about what gifts to buy on the fly – have a very difficult time resisting the charm of seasonal bargains. To them, it’s like being a bee flying through an entire flower field.
The key here is to be like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: Understand the limitations you have to set on yourself and stick to them. Be like a shopping Jedi and use the Force (of your limited budget).
- Make your own gifts for your friends.
Nothing says “Hey, I actually care about you!” more than a handmade gift. It’s a wise choice for so many reasons: Aside from the fact that you’ll be saving more money, you’ll also be able to stretch your creative muscles, give your friends something personalized, and (perhaps most importantly) stretch your budget as well.
This blog post is in support of the #DoMoreWithLess advocacy led by Electrolux Philippines.