Festive season present buying tips

Dec 11, 2017 | Tony Byrne's View

It’s that time of year yet again when you have to plan what presents to buy for people and how you are going to fund your spending.

I don’t know about you but I find it increasingly difficult each year to choose presents to buy that the recipient really wants. My first port of call usually is to ask someone close to the person what he/she really wants or needs. Sometimes I will even ask the recipient directly if I or others cannot think of what to buy them. I so admire people who observe and listen to people throughout the year and work out for themselves what they think they would truly like as present. Unfortunately I am not good at that!

Anyway for what it’s worth here are a few Christmas presents buying tips for you.

  1. If you really cannot think of what to buy then opt for a voucher instead and preferably one without a date limit. Do not buy a voucher from a company that is in financial difficulty as it may become worthless if that company goes bust!
  2. Decide whether the person prefers physical presents or experiences. I am increasingly buying people experiences rather than physical presents because more and more people seem to already have what they want and because experiences are more memorable.
  3. Buy from reputable companies such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer’s where you know you will get no quibble refunds if the present is unsuitable for whatever reason. A well-known department store is a pretty good choice because of the wide range of goods they sell which gives the person plenty of choice.
  4. Pay for the presents with a credit card so that if the retailer goes into liquidation you get your money back from the credit card company under its insurance scheme. You also get 4-7 weeks interest free credit and possibly points or cashback for your purchases.
  5. Always give your recipient a gift receipt so that he/she can return the goods for whatever reason and either replace them or get a refund. Again use the most reputable retailers. This also saves them the embarrassment of not liking your gift.
  6. When buying vouchers make it easy for the person to redeem them. We once received 8 separate theatre vouchers totalling £100. I couldn’t redeem them online. I had to ring the theatre concerned, rub off the numbers on the back of each voucher, read the scratched out number for each voucher, give the 8 digit reference number for each one and disclose the face value of each voucher! That was after researching which theatres would accept the vouchers! A very long winded process indeed. I really appreciated the vouchers and we loved the show but it was very time consuming to redeem them.
  7. Avoid just simply giving cash unless the person is really desperate for money! It makes them think you have put little or no thought into your present buying which is actually true!
  8. Do make a real effort to find out what the person really wants. It’s not that difficult if you try.
  9. Don’t just spend a lot of money on the person. If you spend too much and the recipient isn’t very well off they may feel obliged to spend a lot of money on you too that they cannot really afford. Otherwise they may simply feel guilty because they haven’t spent as much as you. I guess spending much more money on your younger relatives especially children and grandchildren doesn’t really count.
  10. Focus on buying something the person really wants rather than simply something expensive. One of my all-time favourite presents cost the buyer nothing but I was delighted to receive it.
  11. Sometimes putting in a lot of personal effort and time in making a card and/or a present, even if it is not expensive, is highly appreciated by the recipient and preferred to simply being given cash. So if you can paint, draw, knit, sow or crochet then make something for someone. They are bound to appreciate it much more than an expensive gift.
  12. If you are broke then offer to do some work for the person for free such as gardening, DIY, babysitting etc for X number of hours and create a voucher for it. It will cost you nothing other than your time but will be appreciated by the recipient of your gift!
  13. As this is the season of goodwill why not gift at least some money to charity especially homeless charities? Use gift aid and the charity will receive a gift from the tax man on top of your donation in the form of tax relief. If you are a higher rate taxpayer it will even reduce your tax bill!
  14. If the whole commercialisation of Xmas gets your goat why not volunteer to work for a worthwhile charity on Xmas Day instead?
  15. Last but not least don’t fail to get at least a card and a present for each of your loved ones. Several of my close relatives didn’t buy me a birthday present in September. I gave them a list of cycling items I needed and they all wanted me to buy them and then ask them to refund me! As a result I received no birthday presents from them because I did not buy the items. Do I need these gifts? Not really but it hurt to get nothing from them. They could have at least bought me some cycling shop gift vouchers! They were just being lazy and a tad thoughtless. It’s the principle not the money. It’s just nice to know your loved ones have put some time and effort into thinking of you that’s all. Everyone needs to feel appreciated even the richest man in the world Bill Gates!

I truly hope you found my festive season present buying tips useful and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

If you would like more financial tips in the New Year why not arrange a face to face review meeting with me or one of our team?

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