Who gets a gift & how to avoid financial suicide

Welcome to the season where the sanest amongst us lose their minds and overspend themselves into March of the following year. Here are some of my personal gift giving tips that keep me sane, organized, within budget and guilt-free.

I start off by only gifting to those that I truly enjoy seeing them enjoy the gift. When I do, I feel a pinch of guilt because I wish I would have spent less, never that I should have spent more. I don’t feel much guilt in my life, my father says it is because I am dead inside, but I think I feel it is because I am honest and truthful. To this point, I am going to give you the most valuable piece of advice this year. Ready? If you don’t want to buy someone a gift, then don’t. Simply send them a nice card and tell them you could not find the perfect gift and that you made a contribution to a specific charity. I am of course assuming you will in fact make the donation. If you think this is not true, I assure you my brother and his lovely wife have not received a gift for almost a decade. I don’t think they like my choice of charity but they dare not voice it.

Gifting is a yearlong endeavor, it’s not just at holiday time. it is anniversaries, birthday’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other family occasions. I love bundling my gift giving. My aunt who lives in the middle of nowhere Florida gets a flower arrangement every month. The florist hits my credit card for $35 per month every month and we are all happy and on budget. She loves the flowers and I do not have to worry other than to call her — and I do that anyway. My cousin gets a case a wine, red of course. She loves her red wine, her husband loves beer (that’s a personal problem) and when we have our cousin time, she pops a bottle and we catch up until she starts to slur her speech.

Gift cards are the best! They can be mailed or put in a nice little box. By you gifting the gift card you don’t have to pay that pesky sales tax and for us Chicagoans it is 9.5 percent, so you are really getting a break. By gifting a gift card for $50, that not only saves you the $4.75 in sales tax but you do not have to carry it, store it, wrap it and transport it. Lastly, by giving a gift card your giftee gets what he or she really wants and after the holiday’s they get more bang for their gift card. You are the winner by saving money and by allowing them to get what they want — at what is sure to be a lower price.

As a prudent, intelligent and avid reader of my column, you are no dummy. When you start your shopping, save all your receipts in a zip-lock bag until you are finished. This way you will always have with you what you have bought and how much you have spent. As you spend, total your expenditures, that way you can stay within your budget or at least have a running tabulation of how deep you are digging your hole. No judgment — you should just know where you stand financially at every purchase.

Lastly, use your debit card. Your budget should be cash based not credit based. Once the money runs out your shopping is O-V-E-R!

The opinions and recommendations expressed herein are those of Mr. Garrido and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm and are subject to change without notice. This information is not to be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. The information contained herein has been derived from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed as to accuracy and does not purport to be a complete analysis of the security, company or industry involved.