Birthdays are a wonderful time of year; turning another year older is reason for toasting to good health and marking the occasion. Yet, birthday festivities can leave you feeling a little penniless, what with all the gift-giving and partying — even if it’s your own birthday you’re celebrating!
Birthdays can become even more of a financial cause for concern if you’ve got a family; what do you do when your child is desperate for a certain present, but you’re not sure you can round up the funds to buy it? If you’ve ever found yourself in a financial bind following a birthday celebration, keep reading for top tips on how to avoid this situation in the future.
Plan ahead to avoid unpleasant surprises
As with many of life’s woes, the first way to get on top of birthday finances is to plan in advance. Sit down with a calendar or diary, and look ahead throughout the year, marking down the birth dates of all your loved ones, especially members of family. If you want to be super organised, note a rough amount you reckon you’d spend on each person’s gift, then tally up which months look set to be most demanding on your bank balance.
Forward-thinking really is the key to success, because you can put financial plans in place to ensure you’ve got the money in the bank when those birthdays come around. Once you are comfortable with how to set financial goals, you’ll find you’re way more prepared and should be able to keep a healthy bank balance all year round.
If the role of organising a birthday party lands in your lap, shop around and see if there are any bars or restaurants that offer great group deals, or see if you can negotiate a group discount for a day out or activity. Not only will you save yourself money, as a fellow guest, but everyone else will be thanking you too — you may even save enough to cover the costs of the birthday boy or girl, giving them an extra present.
Avoid panic buying; last–minute gifts usually end up costing dearly
Imagine the scene: you’re on your way home from work when — oh no — you realise it’s your partner’s birthday the next day and, somehow, you’ve managed to completely forget to buy them a present. You rush to the nearest store, and frantically search the place for something you can buy them. There’s not many options to go with, so you take out your credit card and wince as you hand it over to buy something that’s, first of all, quite beyond your means financially, and what’s more, perhaps not even their style.
As a general rule, panic buying presents doesn’t end well; everyone feels the need to spend more than they have to, out of guilt and lack of choice. Not to mention the potential emotional fall out of giving your partner a gift they aren’t so keen on! So, you can limit the monetary knock back of gift-giving if you give yourself plenty of time to find the ideal present.
When in doubt, go for a gift with meaning
Everyone loves to receive a gift that really means something to them. In fact, no one can deny that even the most misguided of gifts can be appreciated, if there’s a significant meaning behind it. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of online companies offering personalisation and customisation of gifts, so you can get something extra special and close to their heart. One of the most famous, Not On The High Street, has over 5,000 sellers all offering unique and one of a kind gifts, even for kids. Parents, in particular, adore a sentimental gift, and you can find all sorts of fun items such as engraved cufflinks for Dad, and monogrammed jewellery for Mum or your favourite aunt. You might be thinking, “Hey, this doesn’t sound cheap…” and you’d be right, personalised gifts do cost a little more but remember, one great gift is worth so much more than several not-so-well-thought-out ones — you are saving money in the long run.
Teach your children to value meaning, rather than the price tag
Bringing up your kids can throw all sorts of challenges at you; it can seem like barely a day goes by without a new scenario to manoeuvre your way through. During their school years, little ones are pretty easily influenced by their friends and peers, and of course, by adverts they see on the TV or internet. As a parent, it can be an uphill struggle trying to afford the new trainers, video games and toys that instantly become ‘must haves,’ and then end up unused at the back of the cupboard, because something ‘cooler’ came around.
One of the greatest lessons you can teach your children is to value the meaning of possessions, more than the price tag. You can lead by example by buying your partner a meaningful gift, and explaining to your youngsters why you chose to buy that and why it means so much. If you can instil this understanding at a young age, you’ll save yourself some tantrums further down the line, and save yourself a few quid too!
Charities like Oxfam and Amnesty International have ranges of feel-good gifts, which ask you to purchase something on behalf of someone truly in need; be it the gift of mosquito nets in malaria-ridden countries, or access to clean water by funding a new well. These donations prove to be fantastic gifts for open-minded older children — to teach them that there are others in the world who have much less than they do — or for altruistic adults.
Birthdays don’t have to be a drain
Hopefully, you can put those nasty birthday bankruptcies behind you now? If you have the right financial plans, and inspired gift ideas, in place you can make sure you only have happy memories of birthday parties from now on. The next thing to worry about? Christmas!