How to Cope Up with Socially Obligated Spending

by Broke Professional on February 3, 2014 · 2 comments

An aspect which is often forgotten or neglected in an individual’s budget creation is gift giving, or it may be its just that the right amount is not budgeted for. It is also not unusual to find oneself in a situation wherein you realize that you had not planned on a gift to be given to someone. It can be overwhelming due to the complex nature of gift giving if you do not follow certain strategies while choosing a gift, especially during special occasions, holidays, gift exchanges, etc. But gift shopping should not make way to financial stress. By proper budgeting of gift items, it is not possible to gift everyone in your list for any occasion within a budget.

When it comes to socially obligated spending such as gifting family members, gift exchanges at work, a baby shower gift for a coworker, etc., one might feel the pressure on spending beyond the budget to please their recipients even when they are not in a financial situation to do so. A few tactics have to be learnt in order to cope up with socially obligated spending, and to avoid being trapped in the pressure of overspending for social reasons.

Create a Practical Gift Giving Budget

During the process of budget creation for gift giving, take into consideration the amount of money required in buying expected gifts. Think of occasions which necessitate gifting such as gift exchanges at work, gifting among family members, gifting someone for a baby shower, Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, etc., and accordingly you will have to plan and budget for each one of them. You should also allocate extra amount to meet those unanticipated gift giving occasions that may pop up over the next one year. That would give you a rough idea on the amount of your gift giving budget for a year. From that figure, you can arrive at a budget to be allocated each month towards this purpose.

Plan for Unexpected Gifts

As far as gift giving budget is concerned, you play safe when you set a higher budget instead of lower. By doing so, you can overcome agony when an unexpected event befalls. Not just that, your budget creation should also include your spending amount towards each event or gift. You can set an upper limit on each event and based on the event, the amount can vary. As a result, you will be able to refrain from overspending.

Gift with Friends or Co-workers

As a means of stretching your budget toward gift giving such that you can give a better gift than that of your affordability, contemplate gift giving with your friends or co-workers. This kind of gifting can especially be valuable during occasions such as a baby shower. As a result, your gift will not only be a good one, but will also be one which will be highly beneficial. When gifts are bought off season or during major sales events, you can save a lot of money.

Gift Budgeting for Coworkers

Gift exchanging is handled in many different ways in offices. Some offices accept contributions on a monthly basis toward the birthday pool while others may assign a person to take care of birthdays in a month. Holiday gift giving at office can prove to be even more challenging. In order to stick to your budget, office gift exchange can include homemade treats, gift baskets, gift cards, etc.

Play Secret Santa or White Elephant to Gift Family Members

As an alternative to gifting each and everyone in your family, consider playing Secret Santa or White Elephant. In this manner, you can gift your extended family even when it is larger, and can remain within the limits of your gift budgeting. But make sure that you play with gifts which are most likely much loved by everyone and not just some junk stuff.

Bulk Buying

If there are many co-workers or friends in your gift recipient list, purchasing items in bulk and then splitting them into smaller individual gifts can be advantageous. You can also look out for offers such as “Buy 1 Get 1 free” to save on your budget.

Buy a Gift Basket

When there is a need to gifting families, instead of purchasing a gift for every family member, buy a gift basket which comes in wide varieties.

Do It Yourself

Are you creative in nature and also have sufficient time? You can use your creative skills to make your own gifts, wrappers, decors, cards, etc., or you can bake cookies for your very own gift baskets.


Once you have created a budget for gift giving, try to stick to it. If not, that is going to hinder your other major goals in life due to lack of sufficient savings. When you are pressured by friends or family to spend more, politely stay away from it by informing your situation to them. It is best never to overdo anything to avoid regretting in future. Do not try to keep up with the Joneses and only spend on what is affordable.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter February 6, 2014 at 3:12 am

Great tips! I recently figured out how to make delicious beer bread and use it as a go-to gift. It looks great in plastic wrap with a bow on top. For larger occasions, I stretch a $20-$25 budget via sales, Ebay, Craigslist, Half-Priced Books, etc.


2 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life February 13, 2014 at 12:03 pm

My strategy for gifts (and donations) is to allocate a percentage of each paycheck for the “gift budget”. As little as 1% to as much as 5% adds up to a significant amount and gives you parameters for your gift spending.


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