5 thoughtful gifts to give when you have no money

Life Lessons

5 thoughtful gifts to give when you have no money

Like it or not, the holiday shopping season is in full swing. Stores are filled with festive displays designed to part us from our money. While it can be fun to buy presents for everyone on your list, this can be a challenge when you have little to no money for presents.

You may be tempted to put gifts on credit. Don’t give into that feeling — no gift is worth going into debt to purchase. Thankfully, all is not lost. There are many ways you can give thoughtful gifts on a limited budget. Here are five ideas you can use to give a great gift without spending too much.

1. Bake something.
People love baked goods, especially during the holiday season. Not only does this let you give a gift from your heart, it’s also relatively inexpensive.

You can make cookies, breads, pies or any other baked item to give as a gift. Jeff Campbell, founder of the personal finance site Middle Class Dad, says he used this strategy during a time he was on a limited budget.

“What I did was buy a case of mason jars, and I proceeded to cook up batches of pasta sauce and salsa and can them in the jars. It wasn’t complicated, the total cost for 12 gifts was well under $40, and it didn’t even take that much time.”

You can personalize the gift in a variety of ways to make it feel even more special. Add ribbon or wrap it nicely and it’ll be a gift that’s well-received without spending too much money.

2. Have a friends and family night.
Buying Christmas presents are fun, but it’s often time spent with loved ones that’s most remembered. After all, a gift can wear down or break, but memories last forever. You can do this on a budget by having a friends and family night with those close to you.

“Rather than buying gifts, ask to arrange a friends and family fun night where everyone splits the cost,” says Stephanie Gatewood, MBA, Ramsey Solutions master financial coach, and founder of Financial Freedom Crew. There are many ways to have a family night and not spend a lot of money, such as:

  • Going bowling
  • Seeing a matinee movie
  • Visiting a local zoo or museum
  • Playing miniature golf

The possibilities are nearly endless. You can even have a family potluck and movie night to keep down costs even more.

3. Make a DIY digital photo frame.
Digital photo frames make great gifts, but they’re often quite expensive. Many of the top-rated frames on Amazon, for example, cost north of $100. This is likely too expensive on a limited budget.

All is not lost, though: If you have an old laptop computer you don’t use, this article on Popular Science describes how you can turn it into a DIY digital photo frame for cheap.

This can be a great gift for an older family member or someone who loves to have family photos around the house. Just remember to delete all personal files before doing so.

4. Give acts of service.
Performing an act of service for a friend or family member can make a thoughtful gift. In fact, they may even appreciate it more than an expensive gift. And it only costs you the time spent doing the service.

“Acts of service make great gifts for busy or older family members,” Gatewood says. Often, busy or older family members must spend to get a service done. You can help them with that need and save yourself the stress of coming up with a gift idea on a limited income.

Below are just a few ideas of acts of service you can offer:

  • Running errands
  • Cleaning house
  • Cooking meals
  • Babysitting
  • Repairing a broken item

Just think about what will help them the most and consider if you have the skills to help meet the need. If you have a specialized skill and they run their own business, you can even help in that way.

5. Create a family history DVD.
Do you have a family member who loves to study the history of your family? Putting together a digital family tree is a great gift for that hard-to-shop-for person. Many photo places also can make DVDs for very reasonable rates.

Turn pictures, videos and special notes into a DVD for your family member. This lets you give a gift from the heart without busting your budget.

What to remember
As the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts. If your loved ones know your situation, it’s likely they don’t want you to overspend or go into debt. A gift from the heart doesn’t have to be expensive to be loved.

Don’t overlook gently used items as a gift option. Consignment stores, Goodwill and more can be great options to find gift ideas without a hefty price tag.

There are many ways to give thoughtful Christmas gifts with little to no budget. Just give a little thought to what the recipient enjoys or needs — and you’ll likely arrive at a gift idea you can implement with little money.

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