Christmas greedy? Nope, I'm a self-gifter
Published Friday, December 3, 2010 10:01AM PST
Last December, I conservatively estimate spending $400 on presents for myself while choosing Christmas gifts for loved ones.
Does that make me greedy, self-centered, or a little bit of both?
According to financial expert Katie Dunsworth, it's neither.
Dunsworth, co-author of The Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough, says I'm a "self-gifter," someone who can't resist the urge to buy something for themselves when they're supposed to be focusing on other people.
And while being a self-shopper isn't a cardinal sin, I have to admit, it does hurt the pocketbook when those credit card bills come rolling in.
So Dunsworth, along with her Smart Cookies experts, have devised a list of five unique holiday shopping styles, each with tips to make sure you make the most of your shopping this year.
With any luck, recognizing your own distinctive shopping strengths – and weaknesses – can save you some time and money this year.
The Over Gifter
The over gifter is someone who blows their budget every year and has no spending plan when they're shopping, most often resulting in giant credit card bills and post-Christmas regrets. These are the people I imagine crying and/or yelling when opening their credit card statements on January 1.
But it's not a hopeless situation. Dunsworth says these folks can take the reigns on their spending by making a priority list before going into stores.
"Just like you might have made a list before going to the grocery store, do the same for your gift list this year," she says.
"You'll realize you can save hundreds of dollars by eliminating gifts for people who don't really appreciate them."
But Dunsworth says the over gifter doesn't have to give up giving to keep on track. Instead, if you're intent on giving presents to a certain group of people, consider doing a secret Santa gift exchange to ensure no one is left out and there's still money in your wallet by New Year's Eve.
The Self Gifter
The aforementioned self-gifter usually comes back from the mall with more for themselves than their loved ones.
Dunsworth says the best strategy for these shoppers is making sure you hit the shops with a buddy who will keep you on track.
Setting timelines is also important, as spending more time in the store makes it more likely you'll overspend.
"So even consider setting up appointments or lunch dates that you have to make it to so that you have a firm window of time to get your shopping completed," she says.
The Big Ticket Gifter
This kind of gifter tends to purchase more expensive items like computers, cameras or jewelry instead of multiple cheaper presents.
Dunsworth said this type of gifter can make the most of their purchases by negotiating add-ons with the company they're buying from. In many cases, stores will offer things like free batteries, accessories, maintenance packages or extended warranties – just for asking.
"Many people keep quiet and that's a mistake," she says. "You can't get what you don't ask for."
The Creative Gifter
This gifter is someone who dedicates a lot of time and energy into making one-of-a-kind gifts for their loved ones. This gifter doesn't pay too much attention to prices, but rather opts to find ways to make unique treasures that will be admired for years to come.
Dunsworth says you can save money by inviting your friends along into making presents at holiday group get-togethers.
"Set a date for friends and colleagues to come over to your place to make their own holiday gift or card from using supplies that you and even they might have lying around the house. Everyone loves personalized gifts," she said.
The Last Minute Gifter
This gifter often waits until the 23rd hour to shop, often ending up with the dregs of what's left on store shelves.
Dunsworth says even though you wait until the last minute, it shouldn't cost you more.
"Experiential gifts are your best friend this season," she says.
Dunsworth suggests rather than taking the leftover presents on the shelf, try thinking about an "experience" present that could enhance their day, something like an afternoon manicure, or cooking lessons with a local chef.
These gifts can also keep you out of the mall. Dunsworth says by creating your own gift certificates you can also buy yourself more time to find the best deals. Just tell your friend you want to book the service around their schedule.
Have your say: What kind of gift giver are you?