Ask Ms. Dollar Wise
November 22, 2016
Dear Ms. Dollar Wise,
I hate the holiday season. I’m a college student, trying to keep up with writing assignments, lab classes and test taking, working, and having an active social life. I want to give gifts to my family and friends but just don’t know how to be generous without breaking the bank or going in debt with a credit card. I admit, I put this gift giving pressure on myself. I don’t want to let people down, have them think I don’t care, or come off as a bah-humbug scrooge. How do I be the gift giver I want to be without going broke?
Dear Santa Wannabe,
First of all I want to applaud you for your generous heart by wanting to bless your family and friends- that is one of the joys of Christmas. Gift-giving is supposed to be fun and shows the receiver that you were thinking of them in a special way. However, gift-giving shouldn’t be undertaken as an obligation, creating added pressure to what sounds like an already pressure-filled life. Remember, being a college student on a tight budget is only for a season of your life. However, lessons learned today about how to set gift-giving boundaries will last a lifetime.
First, figure out how much you have to spend and prioritize accordingly. And absolutely refuse to go into debt for anyone—no matter how cute they would look in that leather jacket. Make a budget and stick to it!
Having a small gift giving budget doesn’t mean you can’t be generous. There’s a way everyone can give good gifts, it’s called regifting. No, I’m not suggesting you rewrap Tia Gloria’s neon orange and pink scarf from last year, I’m suggesting regifting a different type of gift- the kind you were born with. This is about giving of your gifts. What do you love to do? How do you spend your free time? Those are your gifts.
If you have an artistic, musical, or culinary talent then this is a no-brainer for you. Frame your photographs (with paint frames from a thrift store,) paint or draw something, write a song and set it to music, write a poem, make tamales, cookies, or breads. Easy.
What do you do if your gifts aren’t so tangible? If you enjoy serving others, find something you could do that would help the receiver, or if history is your thing, plan an outing at a historical site. I can think of a lot of people who would appreciate help in organizing their garage or closet, if organizing is your gift. Even being a good listener can be regifted- treat Nana to coffee and just spend time listening to her childhood stories. Babysitting or reading bedtime stories is a much-needed gift for a single mom.
Santa, I encourage you to continue being generous without going into debt. Draw a line in the snow when it comes to overspending at Christmas. If you think creatively enough, you can figure out a thoughtful way to give of even your most unusual gifts. So this Christmas, before you head to the mall or settle in for a marathon online shopping session, consider regifting—by giving of your own gifts.
-Ms. Dollar Wise
Ask Ms. Dollar Wise is a column for Rio Hondo Students to ask questions they have about handling day-to-day finances. If you have a question you’d like answered in this column email msdollarwise@??????