A new take on Gifts : Guest Post

Mr & Mrs Quest are a Los Angeles based couple working to achieve financial independence and retire early at www.ourquestforfire.com See their take on buying gifts.

Mr. Quest and I have been together for over a decade and rarely buy each other gifts. Is it because we are stingy misers or do we struggle to get by? Not at all. We just hate the pressure.

By pressure, I mean the timing of it all. For example, Christmas always falls in December and we just feel that there is so much pressure to buy the perfect gift at that time. What if he doesn’t need or want anything? Am I buying something just for the sake of buying something? Am I just throwing away money for the sake of having a Christmas gift for him? It’s stressful. It’s especially stressful when I’m wandering around the mall or on Amazon but I just can’t seem to find the right present for him.

Ever since we adopted a more minimalism approach to our lifestyle, we really want to shy away from collecting a bunch of stuff in our house. Instead, for big yearly celebrations like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or our anniversary, we spend our money on an experience. For example, a broadway show, a short trip (with the help of credit card points), or even a nice dinner out. We have fewer things but we have so many more memories now. It’s more fun to look back at old pictures to see what we did together than having a random gift we bought each other for Christmas.

This doesn’t mean we never buy each other gifts. Because let’s face it, everyone likes gifts. Without the pressure of finding the right gift for that right occasion, we tend to buy each other presents during random times in the year. These random times are great little surprises because there is no expectation for a gift. These presents can be something he was eyeing for a while and I happen to see it on sale. Maybe it’s Mr. Quest buying my favorite chocolate candy bar as a small treat while he’s at the grocery store. By not being confined to a certain time to give a present, I can get him what he wants at a discounted price. Also, the more expensive the gift does not necessarily equate to the amount of appreciation I feel. Sometimes getting my favorite candy can solicit the same feelings as getting a nice sweater.

We like to keep things simple and our gift-giving culture works for us. More importantly, it helps us save too. Is gift shopping ever stressful for you? What is your gift-giving culture like in your relationship?

Grocery shopping like a pro


Want to make your money stretch?

Want to be sure that you’re getting the most for your money?

Want to spend less time in the store?

Use these 6 tips to make the best of your time and money when grocery shopping:

1 – Know your budget

The first and most important point is to have a budget! If you don’t have one yet then you may want to start by taking the 30-challenge of tracking your everyday expenses. This will give you a good idea of where and how you’re currently spending your money. This is a great way to start your budget.

If you already have a budget; well-done!

2 – Make a list

Having a shopping list will not only clear your mind and take the “I’m forgetting something” feeling away, it can also speed up your shopping. You can keep a list on your fridge or on your phone and add to whenever you find you need something. Then, before your next shop, read it through and add any extra items you need. Be like Santa and check your list twice.

If you are doing a big shopping spree then categorize your groceries by the following (or something similar that works for you):

  • Fruit & Veg (fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs)
  • Frozen goods (anything in the freezers)
  • Dairy (any dairy goods)
  • Meat (if you eat it)
  • Dry goods / Other (tins, spices, bread, juices and anything that you would store in your cupboard at home)
  • Toiletries (not really groceries but needed)
  • Cleaning products

Generally stores keep similar type items together and if you have a list of what you need from each area it saves you from walking around the store several times. You can categorize your items in whatever way makes the most sense to you, but don’t make your system too complicated as you probably won’t keep it up then.

3 – Don’t shop when you are hungry

If you’re hungry you’ll probably pick things off the shelf that you want to eat now! You’ll also over-cater for your next meal as your poor starving brain cannot deal with the sight of all the food. Another concern is that if you are really hungry and feeling that your blood sugar is low, then you will most likely rush to get through your shopping as quickly as possible. Saving money and sticking to a budget will be your lowest priority. Hangry is a real word!

Keep yourself from temptation and rather delay your shopping trip if you’re hungry.

4 – Check prices per unit

Stores change their prices often and we’re conditioned to think that the larger quantity “bulk buying” is always cheaper. Well, it isn’t! Don’t assume something is cheaper just because it’s in a bigger box or because the packaging tells you to “buy in bulk and save”. Always check the price per unit. Not all stores display the “per unit” price but that’s when you need to take out a calculator and work out which size is best to buy.

5 – Use cash

If you only take cash to the store and no credit or debit cards then you really have no option to spend too much. The embarrassment of not having enough money will surely drive even the most out of control shopper to calculate exactly what they have in their trolley. It’s amazing how good you become at shopping when you only have a set amount of cash and no more.

6 – Join the store loyalty program

Most stores have a loyalty card (points card) of some variety. The savings vary but if you shop at the same store often then it is worth joining their program and using whatever savings are offered to you.

Be aware of the marketing though and remember that they will try to entice you to spend more. So remember your budget and shopping list and don’t be tempted to veer off.