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Isn't it the thought that counts?

The holidays are an expensive time of year. From the gift-giving to the many parties and activities going on to the big family gathering that you're hosting this year, it really does add up. There are so many gifts to buy that it's easy to forget someone you normally would've remembered to buy for. Even when you think you've thought of everyone, you realize you overlooked someone important. This frugal teacher is speaking from experience right now because I thought I had it all under control and realized that I had forgotten to buy my mail carrier a Christmas gift. For those of you who aren't aware of the regulation, US postal employees (including mail carriers) are allowed to receive a gift worth up to $20 for the holidays. I always gift our postal carrier a Walmart gift card and somehow forgot to include that in my holiday shopping this year. While it won't break the bank and I can easily run to Walmart today and pick up a gift card, it is a good example of how proper planning can help you stay on track, stay within your budget, and remember everyone you need to buy for.

But that brings me to a question that has been on my mind lately - isn't it the thought that counts? Couldn't I have simply regifted a candle or pair of fuzzy socks to my mail carrier? While I could have quite easily done so, it just doesn't feel right. Gifts should be given from the heart. We give gifts to people we love, people we work with, and people who have a role in our lives that we want to show appreciation for during the holidays. While some may say a gift is still a gift and it's the thought that counts, I think I'm on the other side of the fence on this one. I think if it's really the thought that counts, then maybe you should put some actual thought into your gift.

How many times lately have you been totally stumped on what to buy a person on your list? This has happened to all of us, I can almost guarantee it. We have a person we need to buy for but don't really know what to get him or her. We put it off and find one reason after another for why this gift won't work or why that gift is all wrong. Eventually, you'll reach a point where any gift is better than no gift and that's when suddenly regifting doesn't seem like a bad idea after all. You grab that candle or those fuzzy slipper socks you yourself received as a gift and you regift them in haste. I'd like to ask you to stop, just for a moment, and think about what that difficult-to-buy-for person on your list would really like to receive. Maybe they would like the gift of time and you can take some dreaded chore off their to-do list. Maybe they would enjoy some homemade cookies or a pie. Maybe they would love to go to dinner with you to catch up or to a movie. Maybe they would enjoy something they wouldn't normally buy for themselves like really good coffee or a gift certificate for a manicure. Instead of regifting, think about something that person would appreciate and try to make that happen instead. Don't use the excuse of "it's the thought that counts" to justify your lack of gift-giving effort. This frugal teacher wants to challenge you to make sure your intentions with gift-giving this Christmas align with the actual gifts you end up giving. Merry Christmas, frugal readers.  


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