In my research for a recent story on the pros and cons of prepaid debit cards, I stumbled across Shelley Hunter, a mom of three who created the website GiftCardGirlfriend.com. I occasionally give gift cards (although I’m not a huge fan). I feel a little funny about the impersonal nature of the whole thing. So I enjoyed Hunter’s site, which is full of ways to make the simple gift of plastic a whole lot more fun.
more about: spending
You’ve probably heard the saying “the devil is in the details,” but when it comes to budgeting, just the opposite is true – the more details, the better your chances for success.
The most idiosyncratic and cryptic of my Twelve Personal Commandments is “Spend out.” What does that mean? I’m a bit of a miser. By spending out, I mean to stop hoarding, to trust in abundance, to stop keeping score.
A humbling fact about my happiness project is that many of the ideas that have made the biggest difference in my life are so…simple. For example, consider one of my twelve personal commandments: Identify the problem.
We’ve all gotten a gift we didn’t love. Maybe it’s not your size. Maybe it’s not your style. Maybe you’ve got a gift-giving occasion coming up (are there any of those coming up?) and you’re short a gift, and you’re thinking of paying your gift forward. Literally. Don’t be shy. A lot of people re-gift—about 1 in 3, according to a Consumer Reports holiday poll. I’ve definitely done it. I once received a really nice wine bottle opener, but I already had one just like it. Ta da—a housewarming gift! Re-gifting isn’t entirely evil, as long as you follow a few basic rules of conduct.
My husband and I used to go hog wild during the holidays. If I saw something I thought he’d like, I bought it. If he saw something he thought I’d like, he bought it. It wasn’t a very money-sound situation. Last year, we decided to set a limit—we were each allowed to spend up to (but not more than) a certain amount on the other one, and we’d spend the rest of our family gift budget on something we could both enjoy, like a home theater system or a weekend away.
One of my Twelve Personal Commandments is to “Spend out.” This somewhat cryptic phrase encompasses several resolutions, but one aspect of “spending out” is to remember to spend money appropriately. I’m an under-buyer, so I need to make a special effort to buy even the things that I truly need.
And yesterday I actually bought some pens.