Sunday, December 4, 2016

5 Gifts for Adults: Clutter-Free & Financially Responsible

As I grow older, I find myself cutting back the number of holiday gifts I give to others.  At this point, I've cut it back to half a dozen key people in my life.  While the load is manageable, there is one thing that I find tricky when it comes to adults on that list.


I'm serious!  This is difficult!  I keep thinking of what I don't want to receive myself.  I don't want any more clutter.  In fact, I could stand to get rid of some things.  I mean, when I picture my most serene, peaceful, ideal future, it doesn't usually contain very much "stuff."  Interestingly, the "stuff" I most struggle to get rid of was gifted to me by someone else.  For some reason that T-shirt that I now wear mostly as PJ's that I got for Christmas seven years ago is still around.  Why?  Because I have some over-inflated sense of duty when it comes to things other people got for me.  If people realized how guilty I feel about getting rid of a gift, they'd just save us both the headache, and not send me anything.  It seems strange doesn't it?  A gift-giver buys you something out of obligation that you feel the need to keep out of obligation (ironic isn't it?).  They spent their money, and you are spending your space on something that doesn't improve your life.  Now, if it brings the gift receiver pleasure, that's another thing, but what happens when the pleasure runs out?  Is it safe to get rid of the gift?  As a gift-giver, I don't want to promote needless clutter, nor do I want to promote the feeling of guilt when it comes to getting rid of something.  I want to promote healthy, financially responsible lives that are to be enjoyed.  I want any gift that I give to reflect that.  So, here is my list of gift ideas for adults:

  1. A Special Outing:  Nothing is more valuable than time.  My partner and I have birthdays fairly close together.  We opted to buy tickets to a play and dinner before it.  We made our choice of play based largely on sale price tickets (buying the week-of can result in discounts), and shared some appetizers for dinner.  The appetizer route and discount tickets kept the prices reduced, and there was NO CLUTTER to deal with later!
  2. Your Labor:  Now, you have to base this one on knowing your intended gift receiver, but I have to tell you, I have a very special friend in my life that would be more thrilled to have me come over and clean her gutters or do some yard work than to receive literally anything in the world from me.  All it will cost me is a few hours of my time.  She gets a chore done (without doing it herself), and I get some exercise.  That's a win all the way around.
  3. A Charitable Donation:  If there is a person in your life that has EVERYTHING, consider donating to a charity that will be meaningful to them.  Put the donation in their name, and they can benefit from the tax break.  This gift promotes financial AND social responsibility.  Another win-win.
  4. Magazine Subscription:  A couple of years ago, a family member did this for me.  I was thrilled!  Reading magazines is a guilty pleasure for me, especially when I travel.  I read them cover to cover, and when I am done I either recycle them, or place them on a "give one, take one" book/magazine shelf to be read by someone else (just  remove your address from the cover).  You can gear the choice of magazine toward financial responsibility in several ways.  Going with a finance magazine is an obvious choice, but there are some others that also promote a healthy financial life.  A friend of mine set a recent goal to take her lunch to work 4 out of 5 days a week.  Cooking on the weekends is a part of her goal.  There are plenty of cooking magazines that would keep her ideas fresh, and her food healthy.  While cooking at home costs more in groceries, it is likely to be healthier, and will cost less than eating out all of the time.  Additionally, any magazines geared toward health and fitness promotes financial well-being.  Remember, the cost of healthcare is huge, even with insurance.  The more we do to stay healthy, the less we spend responding to illnesses.  
  5. A Personal Finance Book:  If the adult is a reader, consider the direct approach at promoting financial responsible living.  Obviously, you have to know the person you are giving the gift to well enough to know that it would be read and well-received.  If you are fairly certain that both are true, think about an author that has inspired you, and ideally, choose something you have read.  Include a personal message about how the book has inspired you, and that you'd love to discuss parts of it along the way with them.  
These are the top five strategies that have worked for me in the past.  They eliminate clutter, and promote living healthily and happily while on the road to financial freedom.  

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